The EU has made progress in supporting stability in Somalia and scored striking success fighting piracy off the coast, but disorder and Islamist threats persist.
At the start of 2013, there was optimism that Somalia could finally break out of its long cycle of instability thanks to military efforts by the African Union (AU) and political work by the UN. The EU has supported both organisations, especially by funding the AU force through the European Commission’s African Peace Facility, training the Somali army and conducting anti-piracy patrols. The EU has also launched a third mission, EUCAP Nestor, aimed at building up East African maritime capabilities to address piracy, which only started to make progress in late 2013. But the situation in Somalia remained unstable throughout the year. A French commando raid in January ended with the death of hostages. AU forces continued to make progress against Islamist forces but sustained major casualties. The UN moved an increased number of personnel into Mogadishu, but they were also the target of terrorist attacks. It is increasingly clear that stabilising Somalia will be tougher than it seemed in early 2013.
The UK remained the most diplomatically active EU member state. It organised an international conference on Somalia in May 2013 and used its G8 presidency to highlight the country’s needs. London seconded a senior diplomat, Nicholas Kay, to run the enhanced UN mission. It also provides the headquarters for the EU naval mission off the Somali coast (EU NAVFOR), which as of December involved one ship each from France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Naval actions have proved effective: there were just 11 pirate incidents off Somalia in the first 11 months of 2013, the lowest figure since 2006. Italy also played a greater role in Somalia in 2013: it deployed a new commander for the EU training mission assisting the country’s army and increased political and institutional support. Member states also made significant financial contributions to Somalia – in particular Germany, Sweden (which doubled its development aid to Somalia), and the UK.