Swiss perspectives in 10 languages

Swiss parliament committee recommends eased weapons re-export rules

Photo of two Ukrainian soldiers using weapons in a wood
On Thursday the Security Policy Committee passed two motions to ease the rules on the re-export of Swiss armaments. The motions were approved in the Senate committee by eight votes to five. Keystone / Iryna Rybakova

After months of refusing to re-export Swiss war materiel to Ukraine, a parliamentary committee in Switzerland has recommended easing export controls.

Countries like Spain, Denmark, and Germany have been asking Switzerland to allow to export armaments to Ukraine for over a year now, but the Swiss government has been firm in its decision to respect the Swiss War Materiel Act.

This act makes it impossible to re-export Swiss-made war materiel to countries involved in a conflict.

But on Thursday the Security Policy Committee passed two motions to ease the rules on the re-export of Swiss armaments. The motions were approved in the Senate committee by eight votes to five.

+ How a first proposal to ease weapons exports failed in parliament 

One of the motions seeks to lift some restrictions on the export of war materiel “in exceptional circumstances and if required to ensure national security”, said the committee in a statement.

The second could also allow deliveries to countries “that are committed to our values and have similar export controls to Switzerland”.

Buyers could re-export Swiss armaments after five years, under certain conditions. Re-exports to countries that “severely” violate human rights or pose a risk to the civilian population would be banned. This would allow the re-export of Swiss-made weapons to Ukraine, but not to Russia.  

+ Switzerland cannot remain neutral over war, says Ukrainian ambassador

The president of the Committee, Werner Salzmann of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, said the purpose of the motions was to ensure the viability of the Swiss defence industry. 

This comes amid concerns that the country’s defence needs are not substantial enough for the domestic industry to survive and thrive at current levels, and that the current strict re-export rules could deter other nations from buying from Swiss suppliers in future.

The motion is set to go to another committee in the House of Representatives – the other Swiss parliamentary chamber – next month. No change is expected to take place before next year. In addition, amendments to the law could be challenged to a referendum, where Swiss voters would have the final say.

Popular Stories

Most Discussed

News

russian embassy in bern

More

Swiss prosecutors investigate suspected Russian spy

This content was published on The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is looking into a Russian agent and two others suspected of violating several laws. One arrest warrant has been issued.

Read more: Swiss prosecutors investigate suspected Russian spy

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI swissinfo.ch certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here . Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at english@swissinfo.ch.

SWI swissinfo.ch - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI swissinfo.ch - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR