UK gives post-Brexit terrorism warning as EU consults Macron

Brexit secretary David Davis with EU negotiator, Michel Barnier. (Bloomberg pic)

BRUSSELS: The UK is warning the European Union not to gamble with the security of the region by refusing to yield to Britain’s demands for post-Brexit police and counter-terrorism cooperation.

Brexit Secretary David Davis sought to step up the pressure on Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, in a meeting Monday in Brussels, a person familiar with the UK position said. The UK sees any diminution of cooperation after its departure from the bloc as potentially compromising mutual security.

In an unannounced trip after his meeting with Davis, Barnier went to Paris to consult with French President Emmanuel Macron as diplomacy intensifies three weeks ahead of an EU summit.

France, which has been the victim of a series of terrorist attacks in recent years, is a leading proponent within the bloc for continued strong security cooperation with the UK after Brexit. British officials believe the French government may pressure the European Commission and the rest of the EU to take a more considered approach, a second UK official said.

‘Protect the Public’

On the British side, negotiators are irked by what they see as the same inflexible approach taken by the EU in other areas of Brexit negotiations — not allowing the UK the same relationship with EU countries when no longer a member. The EU insists that it needs to demonstrate that leaving the bloc incurs consequences, but Britain believes that continuing with the status quo on crime and justice cooperation, would be mutually beneficial.

The UK wants to continue to be part of the European Arrest Warrant, which allows automatic extradition of people suspected of serious offences, including terrorism, in EU countries, but the EU has so far refused. One of the problems with that is that some countries, most notably Germany, have constitutions that forbid the extradition of their own citizens outside of the EU system.

The government also wants to remain a member of the EU’s network for sharing real-time data on wanted criminals, missing people and suspected terrorists, the Schengen Information System II, and the European Criminal Records Information System, which allows the exchange of information about criminal convictions put which isn’t open to non-EU members.

“If we were frozen out of ECRIS,” the UK’s law enforcement agencies “may no longer be able to protect the public when dangerous individuals move between the United Kingdom and the European Union,” Davis said in a speech last week.

In a message posted on Twitter, Barnier, said he met with President Macron and there was a “determination to finalize the withdrawal agreement and build the future relationship with the UK”.