Prepare to extend Brexit transition or risk security 'crisis', MPs tell ministers

Posted On: 
21st March 2018

The Government must avoid “sleep-walking into a crisis” over security and police cooperation by preparing to extend the post-Brexit transition phase beyond 2020, MPs have warned.

The Home Affairs Select Committee says cooperation between European police could be 'seriously undermined'
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The Home Affairs Committee said they were “extremely concerned” about the lack of attention being given to forging new extradition and data sharing arrangements after Britain quits the EU.

According to their own analysis, reaching an agreement to replicate the European Arrest Warrant, Europol capabilities and database access “is likely to take longer than two years”.

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They also warn both the UK and EU against taking for granted their mutual agreement on the need for a security partnership, while urging both to be “flexible” and to avoid “artificial red lines”.

Yvette Cooper, the committee’s chair, said security and policing cooperation was needed “more than ever” due to the scale of "cross border crime, trafficking and terror threats".

She pointed to the example of a rapist, who after fleeing to Slovakia was hauled back to the UK to serve a life sentence because of European Arrest Warrant rules.

“Losing or weakening data access could prevent the police from getting the vital information they need to catch dangerous criminals or keep victims safe,” she said.

“The Prime Minister appears to have eased the ECJ red line when it comes to security cooperation – that is welcome and essential, if we are to be able to replicate current cooperation after Brexit.

“But other tricky problems remain unresolved, and we need much more detail and flexibility from both the Government and the Commission.

“Much more urgency needs to be given to this whole area. Otherwise, we risk sleepwalking into a crisis.

“That is why the Committee is ringing the alarm bell before it is too late.

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

The MP's back the Government’s policy of striking a separate treaty from the main Brexit agreement to replicate the European Arrest Warrant, Europol capabilities and database access.

But they also urge ministers to flesh out the details of the 'bespoke deal' it says it hopes to secure in the field, calling for greater openness with the public and parliament.