The Gulf of Guinea is a vast and diverse region stretching from Senegal to Angola, including approximately 6,000km of coastline. For the last decade, piracy, armed robbery at sea, illegal fishing, smuggling and trafficking, environmental degradation and security at ports have emerged as major threats to maritime security and ultimately to the economic development of the entire region.

In 2014, the EU adopted an EU Strategy for the Gulf of Guinea, in line with the objectives of the 'Yaoundé Process' – the inter-regional commitment between the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) as well as the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) signed at the Yaoundé Heads of State Summit (June 2013) to tackle maritime crime in its widest sense. The EU Action Plan 2015-2020 was consecutively launched to guide the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Gulf of Guinea. It is to be noted that a joint staff working document on elements for an update of the strategy is under preparation to reflect the evolution of threats.

As part of the EU's comprehensive approach to West and Central Africa,  a set of Programmes and Projects focused on capacity building, funded through the instrument contributing to Security and Peace (IcSP) and the European Development Fund (EDF) are geared towards implementing the Strategy for the Gulf of Guinea and its rolling Action Plan. At the same time, since early 2021, the EU Coordinated Maritime Presences (CMP) has boosted the collective engagement by enhancing coordination of the existing Member States naval and air assets present in specific areas at a voluntary basis to increase the EU’s capacity to act as a reliable partner and maritime security provider in the region.

As foreseen in the Action Plan, the EU promotes and develops regular contacts and exchanges with the countries and the regional organisations, thus contributing to the development of regional maritime strategies.