Following meetings between EU defence and foreign affairs ministers in early September, an EU naval operation against people smugglers in the Mediterranean will signal the second phase of the EU initiative to prevent human trafficking at sea.
In the second phase of the operation, officers will be able to board, search, seize or divert vessels suspected of being used for human smuggling or trafficking, in line with international law.
EU Ambassadors within the Political and Security Committee have also agreed that the operation EUNAVFOR Med should be renamed "Sophia" – the name given to a baby born on a ship taking part in the operation, which rescued the baby’s mother off the coast of Libya on 22 August.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Operations, Federica Mogherini, said that the second phase of the operation to detect and deter people smugglers in the Mediterranean took the naval operation from its intelligence-gathering phase to an active phase to stop human traffickers at sea.
“The European Union has proven its capacity to act in a swift and united manner,” she said.
“We are also united in our diplomatic efforts to find both a political solution to the crises in Syria and Libya …and to support the economic and social development of these countries.”
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