The European Council has launched a new European Union (EU) naval operation aimed at tackling human smugglers and traffickers in the Mediterranean.

Named Eunavfor Med, the new mission is designed to identify, capture and dispose of vessels and assets belonging to migrant smugglers or traffickers.

The council stated that the operation will be in full compliance with international laws, including humanitarian and refugee law, and human rights.

EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy high representative Federica Mogherini said: "With this operation, we are targeting the business model of those who benefit from the misery of migrants.

"We are targeting the business model of those who benefit from the misery of migrants."

"As EU, we are determined to contribute to save lives, dismantle the networks of the smugglers of human beings and address the root causes of migration."

Designed to be carriied out in sequential phases, the first stage of the mission will focus on surveillance and assessment of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Southern Central Mediterranean.

Phase two will see the search and seizure of suspicious vessels, while the third will dispose of vessels and related assets to detain traffickers and smugglers.

Cost of the operation is expected to be €11.82m for a two-month start-up phase and the initial mandate of 12 months.

Mogherini also added that the mission is part of a broader strategy that includes the cooperation with the EU’s partners in Africa, particularly in the Sahel region, and work with the International Organization for Migration and the UNHCR.

Headquartered in Rome, the operation commander of Eunavfor Med will be rear admiral Enrico Credendino, assisted at sea by force commander rear admiral Andrea Gueglio.

In March, EU law enforcement agency Europol launched the Joint Operational Team (JOT), Mare, in a bid to combat irregular migration through the Mediterranean Sea.