The European Union Status of Forces Agreement (EU SOFA)

40 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2009 Last revised: 18 Jul 2010

See all articles by Aurel Sari

Aurel Sari

Law School, University of Exeter

Date Written: April 15, 2009


This article offers an overview of the main jurisdictional provisions of the EU Status of Forces Agreement (EU SOFA) of 2003. The article is derived from my more detailed commentary on the EU SOFA published in the Military Law and the Law of War Review.

The EU SOFA was signed by the representatives of the governments of the member states of the EU on 17 November 2003. Its purpose is to define the legal position of the military and civilian personnel, as well as the forces and headquarters, deployed by one EU member state in the territory of another member state in the context of the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP). The EU SOFA makes an important contribution to the development of the EU's crisis management capabilities. By addressing some of the key legal and practical questions raised by the presence of European military and civilian personnel in the territory of other EU member states, the Agreement facilitates their transit and temporary deployment throughout the territory of the EU for the purposes of the ESDP. The EU SOFA is based on the NATO Status of Forces Agreement (NATO) of 1951. As such, it confirms the pre-eminent position of the NATO SOFA as a model for multilateral status of forces agreements governing the legal position of visiting forces deployed among politically equal partners.

Keywords: EU SOFA, status of forces agreements, ESDP, law of visiting forces

Suggested Citation

Sari, Aurel, The European Union Status of Forces Agreement (EU SOFA) (April 15, 2009). Journal of Conflict and Security Law, Vol. 13, pp. 353-391, 2008 , Available at SSRN:

Aurel Sari (Contact Author)

Law School, University of Exeter ( email )

Amory Building
Rennes Drive
Exeter, EX4 4RJ
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1392 725608 (Phone)


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