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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 UK published a document in which it stated that it would aim to negotiate a treaty between the UK and the EU providing a legal basis for continued cooperation on security. The Government stated that it is in the interest of the UK and the EU to sustain “the closest possible cooperation” in this area, and argued that the existing close working should provide a basis for an unprecedented level of cooperation between the EU and a third country. In a further paper published in May 2018, the Government restated these aims, and advocated establishing regular institutional engagement between the EU and UK in the area of security. 

The European Council has stated that the EU is willing to establish a security partnership covering effective exchanges of information, support for operational cooperation between law enforcement authorities and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. However, the European Commission has stated that 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.  

On 2 March 2018, the House of Lords European Union Home Affairs Sub-Committee announced it would be undertaking an inquiry into the proposed UK-EU security treaty. 


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