There is an urgent need to reduce dangerous gaps in legislation surrounding anti-piracy measures and it must be made clear where responsibility lies, according to European transport commissioner Siim Kallas.
Although he was not able to attend the European Economic and Social Committee meeting in Brussels on Thursday, his representative said there was a requirement to co-operate closely with the industry on regulation.
“Whatever rules we have need to be harmonised and we need to take responsibility for this at [European Union] level and regulate it,” she said.
There was general support at the event for the use of armed guards, but many sources were quick to apply caveats to their opinions.
The EESC report states: “Member states are prompted to allow the use of qualified private armed guards for the protection of vulnerable ships in line with the relevant guidance of the International Maritime Organization.
“The use of private armed guards does not constitute a standalone solution or should not become the norm and is complementary to the best management practices.
“Member states are encouraged to provide land-based military units, vessel protection detachments — VPDs — under the auspices of the UN, able to board a ship during the transiting from high-risk areas.”
The report also said that EU member states’ anti-piracy legislation needs updating.
It said: “Since piracy has disappeared as a criminal offence in some countries, a clearer legal framework should be created regarding jurisdictions responsible for prosecuting pirates.
“Regarding proposals to outlaw ransoms, such a ban may have unintended effects and endanger lives even further. On balance, the payment of ransoms should be allowed in the EU. The employment of duly accredited private armed guards should be allowed in member states. The EESC calls for international or EU accreditation standards on private armed guards. The EU should develop bilateral agreements to allow the transit of armed security.”