Written by | Friday, October 10th, 2014

EU Governance of the Threat of Piracy off the Coast of Somalia
Bibi van Ginkel (Netherlands Institute of International Relations – Clingendael)

Somalia is the classic example of a modern state collapse. The government has little control over what goes on in its territory, and as a result, cannot secure a functioning state for the needs of its people. The absence of state power, lack of a functioning coast guard, general poverty in the region and illegal fishing make Somalia a hotbed for piracy. Among other states, the EU also feels the impact of this security threat, which is estimated to have cost those affected by the piracy somewhere between 4.9 and 8.3 billion dollars for year 2010 alone.

In 2005, the EU Commission adopted the Africa Strategy: Towards a Euro-African pact to accelerate Africa’s development, which takes a broad approach, including issues such as human rights and security. It was against the background of these ambitions that the EU began its engagement with Somalia. The EU has become the largest provider of development aid in Somalia, and as such became more involved in Somalia’s security predicaments, including piracy. In 2008, the EU began its first military engagement in the region by setting up the EU NAVFOR Atalanta operation that had as its main task protecting ships of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). More missions followed shortly.

However, despite these efforts, piracy remains a serious threat because attempts to remove its root causes have so far been unsuccessful. While the EU is certainly ambitious in the scope of its operations in the Horn of Africa and creates instruments to tackle piracy head on, its strategy is not very comprehensive and its effectivity has come under scrutiny. Despite the setbacks, the EU seeks to maintain its leadership in tackling piracy in Somalia to show that it is an international actor capable of playing a leading role in the governance of global emergencies.
(The study can be downloaded here:

Free Movement in FOCUS: Is One of the EU’s Freedoms at Risk?
Boyan Tanev a Vít Novotný (Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies)

The free movement of EU citizens was criticised by the far right in the debates leading up to the recent European elections. This topic was already in the spotlight throughout 2013 in the context of expiring labour movement limits on Bulgarian and Romanian migrant workers in the UK and France. Mainstream political parties commonly play the anti-immigration tune to attract conservative voters. However, in doing so, they legitimise arguments of the extremist parties.

Many EU Member States are facing a shortage of qualified labour. In allowing qualified workmen to travel wherever their labour is needed, the free movement of European citizens offers a simple solution to this imbalance. In fact, the EU would benefit from actively supporting labour mobility, as it remains relatively low. The double enlargement of the Union since the turn of the century brought fresh labour into the EU15 and had a positive economic impact on the EU as a whole. At the same time, studies have shown that most EU migrants travel to work and thus are not the welfare scroungers, which is how they are often portrayed by far right parties. Importantly, the rules and conditions of social welfare redistribution are set by individual EU Member States. In this context, the EU only lays emphasis on the permanent residence criteria, which are also defined by Member States.

Also heavily contested before the elections was the question of how many Bulgarians and Romanians should be allowed to migrate to Western Europe. Systematic data about this year’s migration remains unavailable, but some facts are already known. Only nine Member States maintained transitional measures to the latest possible date. Most of the EU labour market has therefore already opened to the Bulgarians and Romanians. As a result, those who sought better work abroad had already gone by now. Furthermore, the controls did not apply to self-employed citizens. Bulgarians and Romanians prefer to work in countries closer to their own anyway: 37 percent of migrant Bulgarian and Romanian workers earn their living in Italy, and only 12 percent in Germany and 5 percent in the UK. Therefore, it is the latter two countries that need not fear a sudden wave of jobless migrants.

Placing limits on the free movement of persons would vitiate the liberties associated with EU citizenship, erode European integration, and allow the far right parties to set a future course of the Union. Mainstream political parties should present the objective truth and explain to their voters the benefits of free movement, and cooperate with other parties across Europe in tackling unemployment.
(The study can be downloaded here:

“The Cavalry Has Arrived”: EU External Representation in The Hague and at the OPCW
Vincent Delaere and Louise van Schaik (Netherlands Institute of International Relations – Clingendael)

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) stepped out of anonymity in 2012 as a result of the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the crucial role of the OPCW in removing chemical weapons from this war-torn country. Aware of the OPCW’s newly won reputation, the European Union now seeks to unite its Member States’ multitudinous voices on the matter under its leadership.

In the past, the representatives of EU Member States in the OPCW operated mainly as national representatives, not as EU representatives. The EU Member States acted rather self-reliantly, relatively isolated from the international arena. This resulted in a disconnect with broader international debates, such as general debates on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The 2012 operation to withdraw chemical weapons from Syria was negotiated chiefly by the U.S. and Russia. Representatives of EU Member States all agreed that this was a missed opportunity for the EU. To increase the decision-making and influence of the EU within the OPCW, since 2013, the European External Action Service (EEAS) has employed a diplomat to the OPCW linked to the delegation holding the Presidency of the EU Council. The goal of this move is to increase the decision-making and influence of the EU within the OPCW. Sending an official EEAS representative could count as a first step towards a clearer EU presence as a third key actor next to the U.S. and Russia.

However, it remains to be seen whether this vision will be fulfilled. Lacking any kind of staff or office, the EEAS ‘laptop diplomat’ may only play a supportive role to the larger and better equipped delegations of EU Member States. We will have to wait for a larger EU Member State to have the EU Presidency to see which role the EEAS representative will be allowed to play. The current solution of a ‘laptop diplomat’ is an interesting but still not fully developed solution. Clarity on mandate and roles of the EU representative in the OPCW are much needed for the EU’s visibility and structural influence in the OPCW to increase.
(The study can be downloaded here:

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