EU scrutinises post-Brexit safety deal

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU officers who started talks with Britain on Friday on safety ties after Brexit will increase issues that diplomats say could imply cooperation in opposition to terrorism and crime might be weakened greater than many anticipated.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May arrives at a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RC12C4FAF240

Among indications that what appeared the least fraught little bit of Brexit is proving trickier is a latest EU report, described to Reuters, which slams Britain’s lackadaisical use of a key EU travel and crime database – the so-called Schengen Information System (SIS). Brussels additionally frets that London can’t be trusted to respect the privateness of EU residents’ knowledge after Brexit.

While EU political leaders are as eager as British Prime Minister Theresa May on protecting the closest doable safety ties between the continent and London, one of many world’s main powers in intelligence and crime-fighting, officers have been turning up a number of authorized and technical obstacles.

“This always looked to be the easy bit of Brexit, the no-brainer that everyone wanted to keep good security cooperation,” stated an individual aware of Germany’s work on the matter. “But as we get into it, we’re finding more and more problems.”

EU guidelines on what might be shared with third international locations are an impediment and Britain’s refusal to topic itself to judicial oversight of the highest EU court docket – the European Court of Justice – additionally presents a hurdle to sharing info.

“Because of that, the reality is we might slide back to a less significant EU-UK relationship with perhaps more being done bilaterally,” a senior EU official stated.

The EU has found a brand new sense of function in coordinating safety work, notably by way of its Europol police company, within the wake of an immigration spike in 2015-16 and Islamic assaults on either side of the English Channel.

But EU diplomats stated a report on Britain’s use of the SIS had highlighted disappointment on the continent. The bloc has determined Britain has used the knowledge from different EU states however usually failed to offer sufficient of its personal or act on safety requests of its friends.


“The SIS is not just a police Facebook where we share interesting stuff. All the entries come with alerts and requests for action and the UK has not been doing a good enough job,” stated an EU diplomat.

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May is flanked by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier than their trilateral assembly on the European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

The SIS is a trove of police intelligence knowledge, collating member states’ info on something from doubtful paperwork to stolen vehicles to wished individuals or lacking objects.

Britain, on account of depart the EU in lower than a yr, has by no means been a part of the European space of control-free travel known as the Schengen zone. While the EU praises it as a prime achievement of European integration, Britain has most well-liked to take care of full management of its personal borders and immigration.

In 2015, nonetheless, Britain was given entry to the SIS, an important device in cooperation between EU states on border safety, preventing terrorism and organised crime.

“If this is how they behave as a member state, how can we trust their commitment to the closest possible security pact after Brexit,” one other EU diplomat stated, including there was no deadline for the EU to determine on reducing Britain off.

The European Commission, negotiating Brexit on behalf of the opposite 27 states, raised the difficulty in a latest Brexit briefing for nationwide diplomats. The Commission declined to touch upon the matter to Reuters, saying the SIS report was labeled.

Britain’s inside ministry, the Home Office, stated it was in talks with the Commission after the EU made suggestions for enchancment. It stated it was “fully committed” to the SIS and added: “We need to continue and enhance the internal security cooperation that already exists within the EU after Brexit.”

Statistics present the SIS was accessed greater than 5.1 billion occasions by member states in 2017, of which some 540 million had been by Britain – the third prime rating. In phrases of uploaded alerts, nonetheless, Britain ranks solely 15th.

The Home Office stated Britain positioned 13,100 alerts on SIS in 2017 and responded to over 9,500 international alerts.

The EU has warned London to not use its safety prowess as a trump card to win concessions in different fields commerce or expatriate rights. Both Britain and the EU say they wish to foster a powerful safety partnership after Brexit.

Additional reporting and enhancing by Alastair Macdonald in Brussels and Andrew MacAskill in London, Editing by William Maclean

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