13:45 GMT29 November 2020
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    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - The European Union extended the mandate of an anti-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia until December 31, 2020, while deciding to transfer the operational headquarters of the EU maritime forces from the United Kingdom to Spain from March next year due to Brexit, the EU Council's press service reported.

    "The Council today extended the mandate of EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation Atalanta until 31 December 2020. The Council also decided to relocate the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Operational Headquarters from Northwood (UK) to Rota (Spain), and to Brest (France) for the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) as of 29 March 2019," the statement said.

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    On the same day, Spanish Navy Vice Adm. Antonio Martorell Lacave will replace Maj. Gen. Charlie Stickland as Operation Atalanta commander, the statement added.

    Both headquarters relocation and change in command are due to the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union, the statement explained.

    In 2008, the European Union along with a number of non-EU members states launched the anti-piracy operation dubbed Atalanta. The vessels of the participating countries have been patrolling shipping routes off the shores of the Horn of Africa since December 2008. In November, the Council of the European Union extended the mandate of the operation until December 2018.


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