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EU prolongs its Gulf of Guinea maritime activity, expands to Indian Ocean

The European Union will extend its co-ordinated maritime presence (CMP) activity in the Gulf of Guinea for two years, while designating the Strait of Hormuz region in the Indian Ocean as a new maritime area of interest (MAI) for the EU. Both initiatives will be reviewed in early 2024.

During a meeting in Brussels on 21 February EU foreign ministers agreed to extend their year-old Gulf of Guinea CMP until February 2024 to build on the operation's achievements, which are based on close co-ordination at sea with the Gulf's littoral states' maritime authorities. Compared to 2020 piracy and armed attacks along the Gulf of Guinea fell 55% in 2021, from 82 to 34 incidents, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

Although the EU termed its Gulf of Guinea activity as an “effective and useful” instrument, it said the region continues to be “a particularly challenging environment” due to the continuing threat of piracy, and that more effort is needed to further strengthen the CMP concept. Among other lines of action, it said this could “potentially” include support from the EU's new European Peace Facility. The latter's EUR5 billion (USD5.65 billion) budget for 2021–27 is intended to pay for security and defence training and equipment for weak or failed states, mainly in Africa.

Pointing to the Indo-Pacific region's strategic importance, the ministers said the EU must continue promoting “an open and rules-based regional security architecture” for the area, including “secure sea lines of communication and an enhanced naval presence”.

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