MPs call for security focus in Brexit talks

A new report from the Home Affairs Committee has warned of serious legal, constitutional and political obstacles in the way of achieving continued close policing and security cooperation after Brexit.

UK-EU security cooperation after Brexit says that the UK's future policing and security capabilities could be seriously undermined and need to be urgently resolved and says the government risks sleep-walking into a crisis, by appearing to assume that the shared UK-EU interest in security cooperation will lead to swift and easy agreement of complex legal and constitutional problems.

The report welcomes the government’s objectives for a Security Treaty to replicate current cooperation on Europol, the European Arrest Warrant and criminal data sharing, but criticises the complacency over the timetable and warns about the complexity of the negotiations.

Setting out a number of recommendations, the report argues that the government and the EU must be ready to extend the transition period for security arrangements beyond the proposed end-date of December 2020, and that the two sides should work to negotiate a bespoke relationship.

Yvette Cooper, chair of the committee, said: "Given the scale of cross border crime, trafficking and terror threats, we need security and policing cooperation more than ever. But there is a serious risk we will lose some of the vital data and extradition arrangements if there isn’t urgent work by both the UK and EU to deal with the trickiest issues.

“We are extremely concerned that neither the government nor the Commission is focusing enough attention on this area of Brexit, to sort these problems out in time. Yet the consequences of running out of transition time before the Security Treaty is in place are immensely serious – both for the UK and Europe. Losing or weakening extradition arrangements could mean being unable to extradite rapists like Zdenko Turtak, who fled back to Slovakia but, using the European Arrest Warrant, was returned to face a long prison sentence. Losing or weakening data access could prevent the police from getting the vital information they need to catch dangerous criminals or keep victims safe.

“Policing cooperation, extradition arrangements and data sharing are too important to lose or diminish. The costs of failure are unthinkable."

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