Brussels, Belgium - The European Union (EU) has taken over the chairmanship of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) from 1 January 2014.
According to a statement issued by the European Commission in Brussels, the EU took over from the United States that led that group in 2013.
It said that the number of hostages off the coast of Somalia, and in the wider Indian ocean, had gone down from more than 700 in 2011 to around 50 by the end of 2013.
'The European Union is strongly committed to bringing this number down to zero ships and zero seafarers in the hands of Somali pirates,' the statement added.
The European Union in December 2008 launched Operation Atlanta to escort World Food Programme ships carrying food to Somalia.
These World Food Programme vessels had a mission for delivering food aid to internally displaced persons in Somalia who escaped fleeing the fighting between Somali government soldiers and Islamist militia Shebab.