On 10 March 2017, the Federal Council announced that it had lifted selected sanctions against Syria, following the EU decision to facilitate the purchase and financing of petroleum products for humanitarian organisations operating in Syria. The change came into effect on 10 March 2017 at 6.00 pm. The announcement stated:
The Ordinance on Measures against Syria prohibits the purchase and transport of Syrian petroleum and petroleum products, together with the financing of such activities. The Federal Council has now relaxed selected aspects of the ban on purchasing and financing petroleum products in the Ordinance. The lifting of sanctions applies to the purchase and transport of petroleum products, as well as to related financing activities carried out by humanitarian organisations that receive funding from the Swiss Confederation.
This change should facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid and the work of Swiss diplomatic and consular missions in Syria. It will reduce the level of bureaucracy currently facing humanitarian organisations supported by the Swiss Confederation. Humanitarian organisations that do not receive public funding can request that an exception be made, as was previously the case.
As a consequence, the Federal Council will now allow the release of economic resources to persons, businesses and organisations previously subject to sanctions, provided the funding is for the purchase or financing of petroleum products for humanitarian purposes.
The Federal Council first imposed sanctions on Syria on 18 May 2011, following the line taken by the EU in its decision of 9 May 2011 on measures against Syria. Since then, the Federal Council has revised Swiss sanctions against Syria in keeping with the EU decisions on the matter.