Switzerland and France declare war on trafficking gangs

Switzerland and France declare war on trafficking gangs

Sat, Oct 28th 2023

Switzerland and France plan to work together to step up the fight against illegal immigration and trafficking gangs. Federal Councillor Elisabeth Baume-Schneider and French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin on Friday adopted an action plan on migration.

swiss border
Swiss border control (source: Keystone/SDA)

“We are determined to work together to combat irregular migration and, in particular, to fight the criminal activities of traffickers, who are a real scourge on society,” Justice Minister Baume-Schneider told the media in the Geneva commune of Thônex.

The main goal of this action plan is to prevent irregular migration, the head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) added. At the same time, she said, it helps to provide protection to those people who really need it.

France and Switzerland already cooperate in the border area. But the two neighboring countries want to do more in light of the increase in secondary migration, which is travel from one Schengen state to another.

The action plan envisages various measures, starting with police operations in the border area to combat smugglers. Mixed patrols will be mobilized in cross-border rail traffic. Communication will be strengthened with the appointment of liaison officers.

“Whoever speaks of a border and whoever speaks of friendly countries must jointly control this border,” French Interior Minister Darmanin stressed. In the joint police work already in place with Italy, France has had good experience in the fight against gangs of traffickers, he explained.

Effective return procedures

At the European level, Switzerland and France, together with other partner states, want to work for swift Dublin procedures and for the resumption of Dublin readmissions by Italy. The two countries also advocated a rapid reform of the European asylum and migration system.

Another key point of the action plan, according to Baume-Schneider, is a joint commitment to effective return procedures and against visa policies by third countries that encourage irregular migration into the Schengen area.

Switzerland and France plan to evaluate the action plan in the first half of 2024 and propose further measures if necessary. Prior to France, Switzerland had already concluded similar action plans with Austria and Germany in 2022.

Signs of détente

The increased cooperation on migration with France comes at a time of détente with the neighboring country. After Switzerland decided against buying the French Rafale fighter jet more than two years ago, this led to a significant cooling of relations with Paris.

Now the relationship seems to be gradually easing. The meeting between Finance Minister Karin Keller-Sutter and her French counterpart Bruno Le Maire on the same day in Paris also represents a normalization of bilateral relations. It was the first visit by a member of the Swiss government to France since the Rafale controversy. At the meeting, France and Switzerland agreed to strengthen cooperation in the economic and financial spheres.

Another sign of the thaw is the announced visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Switzerland on Nov. 15 and 16. Eight years ago, François Hollande was the last French head of state to visit our country.


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