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When you’ve got pirates in your sights, you don’t check with Brussels

Apparently Dutch Navy Captain Hans Lodder didn’t think it worthwile to check in with EU headquarters when he was gaining on a German freighter seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia:  The pirates surrendered the moment they saw the marines," Lodder said in a telephone interview Tuesday from the Dutch frigate Tromp. No one ...

Apparently Dutch Navy Captain Hans Lodder didn’t think it worthwile to check in with EU headquarters when he was gaining on a German freighter seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia: 

The pirates surrendered the moment they saw the marines," Lodder said in a telephone interview Tuesday from the Dutch frigate Tromp. No one was injured.

Monday’s successful rescue showed that, when swift decisions are needed, it can be quicker to work around the European Union’s command. It was the first time a Dutch ship involved in the EU mission had used force to recapture a hijacked ship. …

Lodder said he decided to seek permission from his own command for an "opposed boarding" – one where pirates may resist – rather than act under procedures laid down by Brussels.

 The EU didn’t seem particularly bothered by Lodder’s unilateral action:

"For speed of reaction, if you’re on the spot … (and) dispatched at haste to react to something immediately, the best thing to do is to go under national command," said Cmdr. John Harbour, U.K.-based spokesman for the European Union Naval Force Somalia. "If we were about to conduct an operation with a bit more time on our hands then we may well have gone through the standard EU process with a view to consulting," he added. "That consultation just takes a bit longer."

This makes sense. Hostage rescue situations require speed and clarity — not traits EU leadership is exactly known for — but I’m sure some in Brussels will not be thrilled with the implication that European cooperation is something countries only bother with when it’s convenient. 

 Twitter: @joshuakeating
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