The Somali Crisis and the EU: Moving Onshore and Committing to Somalia


About 90 percent of world trade is conducted via sea transport and up to 50 percent of the world’s container ships pass by the Horn of Africa (Stone 2012). In result, Somali piracy attacks costs the global economy some USD 7 billion a year (One Earth Future Foundation 2012). The crisis in Somalia has thus become a global problem. In response, the worlds’ powers are trying to contain and defuse it. The United States, China, Russia, NATO and the European Union all patrol the Indian Ocean in one of the largest military operations currently ongoing. Thousands of navy officers on war ships are engaged off the Somali coast aiming to protect container and cargo ships. With this costly undertaking not having much effect on preventing piracy, new strategies are needed. The Global Governance Institute takes a look at the political dynamics in Somalia and recommends to closer integrating shore and offshore-based engagement. It focuses on the European engagement with two running crisis management operations and one launched on 16 July 2012 and to be operational in the autumn. In the medium- to long-term engagement on the ground is needed. Piracy is a symptom of political instability in Somalia, not its cause. The revenue generated by pirates via ransom was about USD 160m in 2011, a fraction of what the international naval operations cost. The new European EUCAP Nestor operation can be a first step in the right direction if it is the first of many steps to much stronger engagement, fostering dialogue and addressing the causes of conflict: poverty and instability within Somalia rather than merely deploying warships to patrol the Somali coast.