Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
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Lords debate Committee's report on security and police cooperation after Brexit

On Tuesday 7 February, the House of Lords debates the Committee's report on tools that currently facilitate police and security cooperation between the United Kingdom and the European Union, and the options available to the Government for retaining or replacing them when the UK leaves the EU.

Background

Maintaining the strong security cooperation the UK currently has with the European Union has been identified by the Government as one its top four overarching objectives in the forthcoming negotiations on the UK's exit from, and future relationship with, the European Union. Only two years ago, many of the measures and agencies the UK is now due to leave were deemed vital by the then Home Secretary in order to "stop foreign criminals from coming to Britain, dal with European fighters coming back from Syria, stop British criminals evading justice abroad, prevent foreign criminals evading justice by hiding here, and get foreign criminals out of our prisons." These measures and agencies include the European Arrest Warrant, Europol, Eurojust, the Schengen Information System (SIS II) and the European Criminal Records Information System.

The Debate

The debate follows the publication of a report by the EU Home Affairs Committee which examined the main tools and agencies that underpin security and police cooperation between the UK and EU, and explored the options available to the Government for retaining or replacing them when the UK leaves the EU. The report was published on the 16th December 2016.

The Committee's main conclusions included:

  • The UK and the EU-27 share a strong mutual interest in sustaining police and security cooperation after the UK leaves the EU. In contrast to other policy areas, all parties stand to gain from a positive outcome to this aspect of Brexit negotiations.
  • It seems inevitable that there will in practice be limits to how closely the UK and EU-27 can work together if they are no longer accountable to, and subject to oversight and adjudication by, the same supranational EU institutions, notably the CJEU.
  • The Government will need to devise and secure agreement for a future relationship with Europol that protects the capabilities upon which UK law enforcement has come to rely, which goes further than the operational agreements with Europol that other third countries have been able to reach thus far.
  • Access to EU law enforcement databases and data-sharing platforms is integral to day-to-day policing up and down the country. Were the UK to lose access to them upon leaving the EU, information that can currently be sourced in seconds or hours could take days or weeks to retrieve, delivering an abrupt shock to UK policing and posing a risk to the safety of the public.
  • The data-sharing tools that witnesses identified as top priorities for the UK - SIS II (the Second Generation Schengen Information System) and ECRIS (the European Criminal Records Information System) - are also those it may be hardest to negotiate access to because they are currently used by Schengen or EU members only.
  • The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is a critical component of the UK's law enforcement capabilities. The most promising avenue for the Government to pursue may be to follow the precedent set by Norway and Iceland and seek a bilateral extradition agreement with the EU that mirrors the EAW's provisions as far as possible. An operations gap between the EAW ceasing to apply and a suitable replacement coming into force would pose an unacceptable risk.

Speakers in the Debate

Other members of the House of Lords who are due to speak in the debate can be viewed on the Speakers' List.

Further information

 

Channel website: http://www.parliament.uk/

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