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There will not be a single German officer left in Operation Sophia… just a few thousand euros

(B2) All German participation in the EUNAVFOR Med / Sophia operation is now over

German personnel deployed to Operations HQ in Rome will return to their quarters by June 30. Only the financial contribution via the Athena budget will therefore remain = a little more than 0,5 million euros according to our estimates (for the six months from the end of March to the end of September).

The federal government has decided, in fact, at the end of the last mandate authorized by the Bundestag, not to present a new extension of the mandate. And no date is set for this one. The German Ministry of Defense had reported this in writing to the deputies, it explained, orally this time, the non-renewal before the Defense Committee last Wednesday (June 5), indicates our colleague from Augergeradeaus.

A new participation that depends on political conditions 

It is only if “ the prerequisites for the full implementation of the main mission of the operation are met » that the federal government will consider further participation by Germany in due course. As our colleague Thomas Wiegold notes, the participation of German personnel in the EUNAVFOR MED Sophia operation remains theoretical. There will be no new mandate for this deployment of the Bundeswehr without a certain delay: this will require verification that the conditions are met, a new proposal from the federal government and acceptance by the Bundestag.

A new blow for the operation

This is a new blow for Italy and the European operation, even if it remains symbolic. The main decision was taken in January when Berlin decided to withdraw its ships from Operation EUNAVFOR (read: Germany withdraws from Operation Sophia), thus giving the signal for the end of the presence at sea of ​​Operation Sophia (read: Operation Sophia. Stop or again!). The other countries followed in the face of the persistent blockage with the Italian government to find a solution on the distribution of migrants and refugees picked up at sea by European ships. The only way to save the operation was for Member States to retain an aerial surveillance component and extend it for six months (until September 30, 2019) (read: The extension of EUNAVFOR Med formalized for six months. Intensified aerial patrols).

A saving deadline that is running out

Everyone hoped that this delay (after the European elections) could be saving for the operation. So far, the miracle has not happened. And the decision that the German government has just taken does not bode well. The next meeting of EU defense ministers is on June 17 in Luxembourg. But it is not clear that a decision will be made at that time, or even that the subject will be discussed. The next meeting is set in Helsinki at the end of August for the traditional informal meeting of ministers... We will then see if the pure air of the Finnish lakes will be conducive to more compromise between the different Member States.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

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).