The European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI) is a German-led effort to enhance ground-based air defence (GBAD) in Europe. Launched in August 2022, the initiative aims to strengthen air defence capabilities across Europe and improve coordination in this area. ESSI seeks to enhance cooperation, pool resources, and optimize procurement projects, leading to cost savings, improved interoperability, and increased collaboration in training, maintenance, and logistics. The focus is on economic considerations and the advantages of a coordinated European approach.
Each participating country retains control over the extent of its involvement. As part of the MoU, Switzerland will assess areas where it can enhance cooperation, such as information exchange and joint operations and training, to maximize synergies in the PATRIOT GBAD system. Such collaboration can result in cost savings.
Neutral states have the opportunity to participate in various aspects. Switzerland and Austria, in an additional declaration, have outlined their terms regarding neutrality, including their commitment not to participate in or be involved in international military conflicts. With the signing of the MoU, Switzerland and Austria join the existing 17 European states already involved in ESSI, the Swiss government said in a press release.
Furthermore, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria have signed an agreement to enhance collaboration in military research and development. By strengthening ties with German and Austrian authorities, Switzerland will contribute its expertise, exchange experiences, and share technological skills, particularly in the evaluation of future military systems, including sustainable energy and robotics.