The European roots of Somali piracy

This investigative feature was originally published in the EUobserver on 21 March, 2009

As global powers ratchet up the naval pressure off the coast of Somalia and the European Union this week prepares to play host to a major international conference on the growing scourge of piracy, very little attention is being paid to the other ‘piracy’ in the area – the decades of European illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste in Somali waters.

The Brussels conference – to take place on Wednesday (22 April) and Thursday – will for the most part be a donors’ conference that EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Cristina Gallach predicts will raise in the region of €200 million to bolster Somalia’s anaemic security forces.

Top EU officials, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the heads of the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the commanders of the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia and the EU anti-piracy flotilla will attend. Continue reading →

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Ship Ahoy! Lobby firm buys up EU maritime officials

Investigation originally published in the EUobserver 12.07.10

Transparency campaigners are worried that a PR outfit that lobbies the EU on maritime issues has “bought up the top of the EU’s maritime department lock, stock and barrel.”

The alert comes as Malta’s Joe Borg, the commissioner responsible for maritime affairs and fisheries until last year, gets set to start work with Fipra, a PR consultancy actively lobbying on maritime issues, whose main office is about 100 yards from the commission’s headquarters in Brussels.

On 11 June, the commission gave Mr Borg the green light to work at the firm, saying: “In view of the fact that Mr Borg’s envisaged activity falls outside the scope of his portfolio during his time in office,” it did not even need to convene its Ad Hoc Ethical Committee, a body which examines potential conflict of interest when commissioners leave the EU. Continue reading →