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Chairing the Contact Group on Piracy is a new undertaking for the European Union. It is both an honour and a responsibility. The European Union will approach it with enthusiasm and determination to see that piracy off the Coast of Somalia is pushed further back and that structural and sustainable answers are provided for this scourge that has cost so much to the region and to the entire world.
It will be my privilege to work with all of you towards our common goal and I very much look forward to closely cooperate in the days and months to come.
The EU Presidency is keen to learn your views, ideas and suggestions. You are invited and encouraged to be in close contact with the EU Support Team for the CGPCS Presidency for this matter.
With personal best regards
Deputy Secretary General EEAS
The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia was created on 14 January 2009 pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1851. This voluntary ad hoc international forum brings together over 80 countries, organizations, and industry groups with a shared interest in combating piracy. Chaired in 2013 by the United States, the Contact Group coordinates political, military, and non-governmental efforts to tackle piracy off the coast of Somalia, ensure that pirates are brought to justice, and support regional states to develop sustainable maritime security capabilities. The European Union assumed the Chairmanship on 1st January 2014.
Through its five thematic working groups, the Contact Group draws on a wide range of international expertise and adopts a problem-solving approach to piracy, working closely with Somali officials from the central government and regional administrations and officials in Indian Ocean States. Working Group 1, chaired by the United Kingdom, focuses on operational naval coordination, information sharing, and capacity building; Working Group 2, chaired by Denmark, addresses legal and judicial issues; Working Group 3, chaired by the Republic of Korea, works closely with the shipping industry to enhance awareness and build capabilities among seafarers transiting the region; Working Group 4, chaired by Egypt, aims at raising public awareness of the dangers of piracy; and Working Group 5, chaired by Italy, focuses on disrupting the pirate criminal enterprise ashore, including the illicit financial flows associated with maritime piracy. This unique international partnership is contributing to a significant decline in piracy off the Horn of Africa. The last successful pirate attack on a merchant vessel in the region occurred on 10 May 2012.
The CGPCS has led to a wide array of projects, programmes and initiatives being taken to fight Somali piracy. Among the significant results that have come out of the Contact Group, or are related to the work of the Contact Group, are the following.
On 1 January 2014 the EU assumed the Presidency of the CGPCS for a period of one year. Mr. Maciej Popowski, Deputy Secretary General of the EU's External Action Service has been appointed as the EU Chair of the Contact Group. The Chairmanship of the Contact Group allows the EU to assume international responsibility commensurate with its involvement in the Horn of Africa and Somalia in particular. The fight against piracy is entering its endgame and Somalia is in a crucial period on its way to political and social stability and economic recovery. The EU is, with over 1,2 billion euro spent on development and capacity building, not only the biggest donor in Somalia, it also executes concurrently three CSDP missions in the Horn of Africa region/Western Indian Ocean: EUNAVFOR Atalanta, the regional maritime capacity building mission EUCAP Nestor and the EU Training Mission Somalia. The Chairmanship is a joint endeavour of both Commission and the External Action Service.
The specific responsibility of the Chair of the Contact Group for the near future is to work with all stakeholders within the region and the international community to allow them to hold on and to keep focus on Somali based piracy in order to bring the end game to a successful conclusion.
During its tenure as Chair of the Contact Group the EU will ask continuous attention for the following priorities:
In order to proceed with the objective to refine and optimize the structures of the Contact group, the EU presidency organized a CGPCS Strategy Meeting of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coasts of Somalia (CGPCS) on 28 January in Paris. This was the first main event under the 2014 EU Presidency of the CGPCS. Consensus was reached on the new, refined, organisational structure streamlining and refocusing the CGPCS working groups. The working groups, three in total, are going to focus on:
Major strides forward were made in terms of regionalisation introducing for the first time for the CGPCS the concept of co-chairs. Candidatures to co-chair working groups were put forward from the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), United Arab Emirates, the Republic of Seychelles and Japan (only a few days ago after the strategic meeting). These are extremely good results for which the EU presidency has been widely congratulated. These results will be formally approved at the first 2014 plenary meeting, scheduled in New York on 14 May, or even before through a silence procedure.