Proposed UK-EU Security Treaty

This House of Lords Library Briefing provides an overview of current UK-EU cooperation on security and justice, as well as a summary of proposals by the UK and EU for cooperation in this area once the UK has left the EU.

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As a member state of the European Union (EU), the UK participates in a variety of EU policing and criminal justice tools which enable data sharing and collaboration between members.

In September 2017, the Government stated that it would aim to negotiate a treaty between the UK and the EU which would provide a legal basis for continued cooperation on security. The Government stated that “it is in the clear interest of all citizens that the UK and the EU sustain the closest possible cooperation in tackling terrorism, organised crime and other threats to security now and into the future”, and argued that the existing close working between the UK and the EU on security should provide a basis for an agreement facilitating an unprecedented level of cooperation between the EU and a third country.

The European Council has stated that “the EU stands ready to establish partnerships in areas unrelated to trade, in particular the fight against terrorism and international crime, as well as security, defence and foreign policy”. However, a presentation released by the European Commission stated that while the EU aims for a partnership with the UK on security and justice, the EU’s interests must be protected, a non-member state cannot have the same rights as a member state, there must be a balance of rights and obligations and the EU must continue to have autonomy in making decisions.

Many EU justice and home affairs tools involve the transfer of data between parties. At present this is enabled by the UK’s membership of the EU and compliance with its data protection legislation. Once the UK leaves the EU, one option would be for it to pursue an ‘adequacy decision’, determining its data protection laws are essentially equivalent to those of the EU. However, it has been noted that a consequence of this would be that the UK would have to comply with standards it had not had a role in setting.

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