open access

Abstract

The upsurge in pirate attacks on European vessels in the
Gulf of Aden during 2008 brought the forgotten confl ict of Somalia
back onto the international political agenda. It soon became clear that
no initiative off the Somali coast could be effective unless it was accompanied
by efforts to relieve the root causes of piracy. This article
examines fi rst the essential features of the situation in Somalia,
providing the necessary background to fully grasp not only the root
causes of piracy, but also the risk to Western security posed by recent
developments in this failed State. As regards the European Union, piracy-
related incidents in the Gulf of Aden entail multi-faceted threats
against European interests. A key question which arises is the extent
to which the European response to Somali pirates truly follows a comprehensive,
integrated approach. Following an empirical analysis of
development co-operation tools implemented in Somalia over recent
years, as well as a thorough assessment of the legal mandate and
several shortcomings faced by the fi rst EU naval military operation,
EU NAVFOR-Atalanta, we conclude that the EU response to piracy
is stretched and inadequate both on land and off-shore. Therefore,
the reality contradicts to a great extent political statements at the EU
level. A possible explanation for this somewhat frustrating outcome is
provided by a theoretical examination of the objectives (besides having
an impact on the ground in Somalia) behind EU Foreign Policy.
Objectives linked to the visibility of the EU as a global actor, as well as
the Europeanisation of foreign and internal policies of Member States
will be particularly emphasised.