A former British government intelligence and security adviser has warned of the dangers to the security of both the UK and EU after it was revealed Britain will drop out of Europol after Brexit.
Britain automatically became a member of Europol when it joined the European Union in January, 1973. In March 2019 the UK will have to quit the organization.
News that Britain will no longer have a role in Europol emerged during a speech by Michael Barnier, the European Commission’s chief negotiator, at a security conference in Berlin on Wednesday, November 29.
Grave concerns over the “potentially very worrying implications” for both sides, have been voiced by Dr. Julian Richards, of the Center for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham. He insisted also that security should not become a bargaining chip or be compromised in any way when Britain leaves the European Union.
“There is no doubt that this is a particular complication of Brexit with potentially very worrying implications both for UK and EU security. The UK has been probably the most significant member of Europol in terms of staffing and intelligence exchange, but it does have to leave as it will no longer be signatory to the relevant treaties. What we all hope — and I would personally consider this a very likely outcome — is that there is sufficient mutual benefit in terms of regional security that a workable alternative arrangement will be made whereby the UK will continue to work closely with its European neighbors on policing and security,” Dr. Richards told Sputnik.
The details of such cooperation — like so much with Brexit — will not be trivial to design and agree within the short timescale needed, but there is too much at stake for both sides of the arrangement not to find a suitable way forward. the academic explained.
“The politicians on both sides might be trading unwise threats about reductions to security as a bargaining point, but the practical reality of needing to ensure continued high levels of security on both sides of the Channel should mean that sense prevails on the ground.”
In his speech Barnier accused the UK of abandoning the defense of Europe at a time when it should be standing “shoulder to shoulder” with its European neighbors.
The British government has always maintained that it wants to remain inside the European police agency as well as retain other EU security benefits such as the European Arrest Warrant and shared criminal databases.
Outlining his views, Mr. Barnier insisted the UK would be leaving the European Defense Agency while British defense ministers and ambassadors would be excluded from international meetings with EU colleagues.
“More than 500 days ago, the United Kingdom took the sovereign decision to leave the European Union and bring to an end 44 years of common history. To many of us this came as a great shock. It was a decision taken against the backdrop of a strategic repositioning by our American ally, which has gathered pace since the election of Donald Trump. It was a decision that came after a series of attacks on European soil, committed by young people who grew up in Europe, in our countries. It was a decision that came six months after the French Minister of Defense issued a call for solidarity to all his European counterparts to join forces to fight the terrorism of Daesh,” added Mr. Barnier.
“Never had the need to be together, to protect ourselves together, to act together been so strong, so manifest. Yet rather than stay shoulder to shoulder with the Union, the British chose to be on their own again,” the chief negotiator said.
Louise Haigh, Labor’s shadow police minister, described the UK’s impending exit from Europol as a major worry.
“This is a huge blow which threatens vital national security cooperation and risks critical information falling between the gaps. The government’s inflexible approach risks us being turfed out of the security framework we helped create and which has contributed to our safety and security for many years. They must now do everything possible to ensure that Britain remains an integral part of Europol,” the MP added.