CLEER WP 2014/4 - Erkelens

Institutional and legal aspects of EU’s judicial policy to fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia

Leendert H. Erkelens

In December 2008 the EU launched Atalanta, its first-ever naval operation. The militarily related targets of this operation aimed at combatting piracy off the coast of Somalia are rather clearly formulated. More ambiguity exists with regard to the second part of the operation pertaining to the judicial follow-up of its military activities in terms of capturing and detaining suspects of piracy. This paper critically assesses the EU’s anti-piracy operation Atalanta in light of the prosecution of pirates. Though initiated in support of a single legal framework established by the UN Security Council, the Mission seems to be at a crossroads between two different policy areas of the EU. The paper discusses this non-military part of operation Atalanta in light of the EU’s policies in the areas of Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), as well as Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ). The question as to what extent the operation serves Justice and Home Affairs related law enforcement goals will be investigated. The law enforcement tasks of operation Atalanta appear to be related to the internal dimension of the EU’s policies in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. Reasons for this conclusion are given and some consequences resulting therefrom in terms of establishing an appropriate legal basis and Union-wide jurisdictional rules regarding judicial assignments and a more uncompromising prosecution policy.


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CLEER WP 2014/4 - Erkelens