Cooperation in policing and law enforcement is one of most vital forms of EU activity, and the UK has both gained and contributed a great deal of intelligence and leadership, resulting in enhanced capabilities and operational successes. We agree with the Government that the UK should seek to maintain its capabilities in full after Brexit, through a comprehensive security treaty. We also welcome its commitment to remaining part of Europol, the European policing agency; maintaining the UK’s extradition capabilities after Brexit; and retaining access to vital sources of EU data on crime, wanted or convicted people, and criminal activities.
Much more attention needs to be given, however, to the many complex technical and legal obstacles to achieving such a close degree of cooperation—unprecedented for any third country, particularly outside Schengen. Given these many potential hurdles, the Government and EU must remain open to extending the transition period for security arrangements beyond the EU’s proposed end-date of December 2020.
Looking beyond transition, it is crucial that negotiations on a future security treaty begin imminently. There are many difficulties for the Government to overcome, and we have particularly strong concerns about the following issues:
As these complex issues make clear, success in this area of Brexit will require pragmatism on both sides. The EU should not be so inflexible that it confines cooperation to existing models, but the UK should not be rigid about its own red lines, including the future jurisdiction of the CJEU. We agree with the Home Secretary that a no deal outcome in security should be unthinkable, but we are not convinced that the Government has a clear strategy to prevent the unthinkable from becoming a reality, and we have serious concerns about its apparent lack of investment and interest in contingency planning. It is time for the Government to flesh out the details of the ‘bespoke deal’ it says it hopes to secure in this area, and to be open with the public and Parliament, by explaining how it proposes to address the potential pitfalls and obstacles identified in this report.
Published: 21 March 2018