So, What's The Issue In A Nutshell?
Our Government has a duty as part of our human rights to reasonably protect us from harm – including terrorism. One of the many ways we currently do this is by working with our European partners. In practice, this means sharing information through Europol and the Schengen Information System between member states. However, security has also become a flashpoint on the other side of the Brexit argument, with some arguing leaving the bloc could allow us to tighten up our borders, despite the fact the UK isn’t part of the Schengen Agreement which allows people to cross borders without a passport.
Right, What Are The UK Saying About It?
It’s clear this is a big issue for the UK, but there isn’t one simple consensus. In her letter triggering Article 50 Theresa May said both Britain and the EU’s security measures would suffer if there was a messy break-up. This differs, however, from EU Commissioner Julian King, who previously said nothing would change as the schemes were of “mutual benefit”. The House of Lords also launched an inquiry into the European Arrest Warrant to look at how the UK can both “bring an end to the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the UK” and sustain “deep cooperation” with the EU and its Member States in the fight against crime and terrorism. It found there would be a security risk without the structure. There are currently no states operating the European Arrest Warrant that are outside of the EU.
And The EU? What Do They Think?
The UK has already been accused of using security cooperation as “blackmail” and a “threat” by senior figures in Brussels after Theresa May included it in her letter triggering Article 50. Director General of Europol Rob Wainwright has commented that the UK should find some way of staying in the system, as it will be “safer” in than out. It’s also worth noting both sides potentially have something to lose here, with a recent study from the Rand Corporation saying both sides could end up “weaker and less secure”. The UK becoming a safe haven for criminals from across Europe is a scenario neither side wants to see.
Where Have We Got So Far?
It’s all still to play for on this one, with little announced in the way of concrete plans. There is, however, a feeling that both sides could get left worse off if no deal is struck, so many are hopeful things could stay as they are. As always though, this will be a complicated process and it pays to look at the finer details. How the UK could keep justice and security arrangements without being subject to the Courts of Justice of the EU is a particularly difficult question without an easy answer.