Despite brexit: british government renews cooperation with europol

Europol headquarters in the hague. Image: jurgennl/cc by-sa-3.0

Due to a special regulation, british officials had to withdraw from europol even without activation of brexit. The government is now pulling a politically sensitive emergency brake

Great britain will continue to be a. May 2017 participate in the police agency europol. This was announced by the british police minister brandon lewis to the press. It is a matter of "temporary solution", which is to be valid at least until the final exit from the european union. The wording suggests that the government will continue to work with europol after brexit.

Actually, the uk should have opted out of europol completely even without activating brexit. This is because the treaty of amsterdam gave the country the right to participate individually in eu legal acts in the area of home affairs and justice (the so-called opt-in or opt-out). Opt-out). The government must declare its acceptance of a legal act individually in each case. In addition to police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, this concerns the areas of borders, asylum, migration and cooperation in civil matters. For example, the uk did not adopt the directive on long-term residents or the one on repatriation. Therefore, the authorities do not have access to the visa information system.

Deportations yes, frontex no

In contrast, the government benefits from individual legal acts to combat and prevent unwanted migration. British authorities do not participate in frontex, but they do take part in the border agency’s activities (such as joint deportations) in bilateral agreements. The uk does not recognize the schengen acquis; it is not bound by the abolition of internal border controls. However, british authorities do make use of certain provisions of the schengen acquis, such as mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and limited access to the schengen information system.

In may of this year, the european parliament and the council adopted the new europol regulation, which will enter into force a year later and replace all previous decisions. After the brexit vote in june, the re-entry of europol seemed to be politically unfeasible.

The new europol regulation significantly expands powers for the eu police agency, including more access to databases, more data sharing with private entities and a hotline to remove internet content. Europol will also cooperate more closely with european domestic intelligence services. A parliamentary oversight committee has been set up to provide oversight, which will also be operational from 1 january. May 2017 to begin its work. Its establishment will be decided by the conference of the presidents of the parliaments of the eu member states. A working group has been set up to prepare a draft proposal, involving the parliaments of luxembourg and slovakia, as well as members of parliament from the u.K.

Europol findings to "five eyes"

Rob wainwright, a former senior member of mi5, is the uk’s current director of the police agency. Wainwright had made several strong calls in the press to adopt the europol regulation and thus remain part of the police information exchange process. The head of the police academy is also british, as is the european commissioner for the security union, who was appointed for the first time this year. The british government also received a wind of change from the scottish home secretary, who explicitly buried the announced re-entry.

Among the supporters of cooperation with europol is the director of the british criminal investigation department, david armond, who warned of disgruntlement in intelligence circles if europol were to leave. According to armond, if great britain left europol, the cooperation of the other police forces in the european union would also have to be improved "five eyes" the european union should reconsider the relationship between its intelligence agencies and the european union. Because australia, canada, new zealand and the usa received important europol knowledge through great britain.

In addition to the europol regulation, the british government also wants to re-adopt the so-called prum acquis. This was reported by the independent newspaper two weeks ago. The prum treaty facilitates the exchange of information and operational cooperation among police authorities in the european union. The british parliament decided to re-engage in december last year, but because of the brexit vote it was unclear whether the decision was still valid.

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