EU antipiracy mission headquarters to move from UK to France and Spain

31st July 2018

The headquarters of the EU’s anti-piracy missions off the coast of Somalia will be moved from the UK to France and Spain next year as EU leaders revealed the latest consequence of Brexit.

EU leaders announced on 30 July that the EU NAVFOR Operational Headquarters will relocate from its base of Northwood in North London, to the Spanish coastal town of Rota after March 29 next year, when the UK leaves the EU.

The Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) will be relocated to the French city of Brest, meanwhile.

EU leaders also agreed to extend the missions’ mandate until December 2020.

The mission, which is also referred to as Operation Atalanta, was launched in December 2008, aimed at protecting ships belonging to the World Food Programme and African Union Mission in Somalia, which has been waging war on jihadist group Al-Shabaab. Its mandate was broadened to cover piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast and to monitor fishing activities in the region.

The move is no surprise. Spain and France launched their joint campaign for Rota and Brest to take over the missions in late March. The decision has been forced by the June 2016 referendum when Britons voted to leave the EU – under EU law the bloc’s agencies cannot be located in non-member states. Last year, the London-based European Banking Authority and European Medicines Agency (EMA) were allocated to Paris and Amsterdam respectively,


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