As a consequence of the people smuggling shipwrecks off Libya, the EU launched a military operation known as European Union Naval Force Mediterranean.
This operation, also known as Operation Sophia, has the aim of neutralising established refugee smuggling routes in the Mediterranean.
EUNAVFOR Med consists of three phases:
- The first phase focuses on surveillance and assessment of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Mediterranean.
- The second stage of the operation provides for the search and, if necessary, diversion of suspicious vessels.
- The third phase would allow the disposal of vessels and related assets, preferably before use, and to apprehend traffickers and smugglers.
There is a common budget of 11.82 million Euro for a 12 months period. Within its premises, the EU Operation HQ can host in excess of 200 civil and military planners who work together to accomplish the mission assigned by Brussels. For EUNAVFOR MED operation the Italian EU OHQ has been activated with 175 personnel position, almost 60 to be filled by different country of Member States.
In addition, military assets and personnel are provided by the contributing states with the running costs and personnel costs being met on a national basis.
Vessels from all over the continent are deployed, notably the Italian aircraft carrier Cavour. British vessels are also present, HMS Enterprise having replaced HMS Bulwark on the mission.
More than 13,000 migrants have been rescued from the sea in the course of the operation.