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Swiss in Operation EUNAVFOR: It's Confirmed

(B2) It's done. After procrastinating (a little), the Swiss Federal Council (government) decided, (Wednesday) February 25, to send its soldiers to participate in the European operation “EUNAVFOR Atalanta” deployed off the coast of Somalia to counter the action pirates.

Limited commitment.
This Swiss participation "will be limited to the commitment of soldiers for the protection of World Food Program (WFP) ships and, if necessary, for the protection of Swiss merchant ships transiting the Atalanta area of ​​operation“. The mandate given to the Swiss military “will otherwise be limited to the protection of ships and defense against pirate attacks. An offensive military operation directed against pirates at sea or on land going beyond the mandate of military police protection would not be considered.” is it specified on the side of the Swiss defence. This commitment of the army is based, in fact. on Article 69 of the Federal Law on the Armed Forces and Military Administration. This is a support service abroad aimed at protecting WFP ships, supporting humanitarian aid and protecting Swiss ships, which represents assistance for the safeguarding of Swiss interests.

30 people – detail of the workforce. Switzerland's commitment is limited to 30 people. That is to say: up to four staff officers, two teams from the army reconnaissance and grenadier formations and three legal specialists, as well as a medical team consisting of a doctor and nursing staff. Cost for Switzerland: CHF 9,8 million (extraordinary costs).

Assembly vote and agreement with the European Union. The Federal Council must now submit to the Federal Chambers at their next session the message aimed at obtaining their approval regarding the sending of armed personnel within the framework of Operation Atalanta and giving it authority to sign the participation agreement between the Switzerland and the EU. Mandate also given to the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Defense (Civil Protection, Youth and Sports – it's in the same ministry!) to negotiate a participation agreement with the European Union

A more general framework in preparation. Switzerland also wants, more generally, to modify its army engagement law in order to facilitate participation in this type of European operation. The Department of Defense must therefore prepare an amendment to the Law on the Army and Military Administration (LAAM), to create a clear legal basis for the participation of the army in future operations such as EUNAVFOR Atalanta. This draft modification of the LAAM should be presented to the assembly, together with the message concerning the approval of the army's commitment within the framework of operation EUNAVFOR Atalanta.


(photo: DDPS “helicopter of reconnaissance detachment 10 – DRA10 – elite unit of the Swiss army)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).