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UK plans treaty to remain inside Europol after Brexit

Amber Rudd proposes new UK-EU security treaty that is not conditional on success of Brexit talks

The Guardian

Alan Travis

18 September, 2017

Proposals for a new UK-EU security treaty to “lock in” membership of Europol, the European arrest warrant and other existing joint measures to combat crime and terrorism after Brexit are to be published on Monday.

The home secretary, Amber Rudd, said on Sunday that “a new legal framework” would be proposed to underpin the security treaty despite recent warnings that Britain would lose access to “critical data” if it did not accept the role of the European court of justice.

The Brexit paper will outline the British government’s plan to move to a new legal basis for continued cross-border cooperation on security, law enforcement and criminal justice from outside the EU without any “operational gaps”.


Rudd said that a UK-EU security treaty was not conditional on the success or otherwise of the overall Brexit talks and could go ahead whatever happened. She said that conversations with her EU counterparts “gave her a lot of encouragement” for its prospects. Six months ago, Rudd warned that Britain might leave Europol and “take our information away” if no future deal was struck on security.

A new treaty would allow us to maintain and strengthen our current level of cooperation and provide a new legal framework to do this,” said the home secretary.“It would mean we are able to respond to threats as they evolve, and would establish the way we can maintain crime-fighting – capabilities between the UK, the EU and its member states. Such a treaty would be in the interest of all parties.”

The key measures to be covered by the treaty include:

the European arrest warrant which means that wanted suspects who have escaped to another European country can be quickly returned to face justice. Before it was introduced in 2004, Britain extradited fewer than 60 people a year to other EU countries. Now more than 1,000 are routinely extradited.


Schengen information system II which allows Britain to send and receive alerts on suspected criminals and terrorists. The UK connected to the SIS II database on 13 April 2015. It also covers immigration and asylum data but Britain only takes part in law enforcement aspects.

Europol and Eurojust. Britain has played a leading role in developing Europol and its director since 2009 has been British. Rob Wainwright has overseen its development overseeing databases containing tens of millions of pieces of information on criminals, offences and suspect vehicles, and it helps coordinate crime-fighting operations against drug dealers, human trafficking gangs and terrorists. Eurojust based in the
Hague oversees judicial cooperation.

The prospects for a security treaty however will turn on the role of the European court of justice. In July, an EU commission assessment underlined the role of the ECJ in this area saying that “compliance with fundamental rights is a key characteristic of EU security policy.”.

The Conservative peer, Lord Kirkhope, who has played a crucial role in developing the European passenger name record database, raised concerns in August that Britain would lose access to “critical data” unless it accepted a role for the European court of justice. He feared that Theresa May’s ECJ red line could result in weakened security links.

The Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesman, Ed Davey, said: “It’s good ministers have stopped threatening to use our collective security as a Brexit bargaining chip, but this proposal is deeply muddled.

“Britain must be part of Europe’s top crime-fighting tools like the European arrest warrant and shared databases on criminals. But the prime minister’s refusal to support any deal where the European court of justice retains judicial oversight is damaging our chances of preserving this vital cooperation.

“Theresa May must not let her insecurity in the face of Boris Johnson’s latest outburst deflect from the pressing need to keep existing EU crime-fighting measures,” he said.

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