From the 1st of January 2014 the European Union will assume for one year the chairmanship of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) with Maciej Popowski, Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) as EU chairperson. The chairmanship of the Contact Group is a joint endeavour of the EEAS and the European Commission and will continue the work carried out in 2013 under the chairmanship of the United States.
While the number of hostages has gone down from more than 700 in 2011 to around 50 today, the European Union is strongly committed to bringing this number down to zero: zero ships and zero seafarers in the hands of Somali pirates. High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President Catherine Ashton said: "Pirate attacks over the past year have dropped by 95%, but the fight against piracy is not yet won. It is vital that the international community continues to work together to stamp out piracy and
consolidate the gains we have already made".
The EU looks forward to working with all stakeholders in the region and with the international community to bring the fight against Somali piracy to an end. This aim reflects the strategic framework and broader objectives set out during the Conference on a New Deal for Somalia in Brussels on 16 September 2013. The eradication of piracy will only be achieved on Somali soil and by the Somali people but the international community needs to keep focus and maintain momentum. As chair of the CGPCS the EU will not lose sight of the humanitarian cost of piracy. Hijacked crews and seafarers that have been taken hostage have suffered the most.