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Committee reports on EU firearms laws in Northern Ireland, and UK participation in the European Arrest Warrant

29 October 2020

In its latest report, the European Scrutiny Committee considers recent draft EU legislation and policy documents deposited in Parliament by the Government.

Each document is accompanied by an Explanatory Memorandum from the relevant Minister. The Committee examines the legal and political importance of the document and where appropriate asks further questions of the Government about its implications. The Committee also has the power to recommend documents for debate.

In its latest report the Committee highlights the importance of several documents, and how it intends to follow up with Government. These include:

HO – Northern Ireland Protocol: continued application of EU firearms laws

Important because:

  • The EU Action Plan on Firearms Trafficking calls for the effective implementation of the EU Firearms Directive, a measure which will continue to apply in Northern Ireland after the end of the post-Brexit transition period, under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
  • It gives rise to questions about the Government’s policy on regulatory alignment or divergence across the UK’s different legal jurisdictions, and how it will manage the flow of goods into the UK, after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020.

The Committee’s 22nd report examined this Commission Communication, and raised several questions which the Committee put to the Security Minister, James Brokenshire MP.

In his response, the Minister acknowledges that the UK is legally obliged to implement the Directive and could face infraction proceedings if the Commission believed its domestic law was not fully compliant. He also reveals that the Home Office is taking a ‘whole system’ coordinated approach to safeguarding against the risk of illicit goods entering the UK market; involving the Northern Ireland Office, Devolved Administrations, Police Service of Northern Ireland, Transition Taskforce, HMRC, and others.

The Committee has replied to the Minister, asking when more information about the Government’s ‘whole system’ approach will be available, and whether the UK’s application to remain part of the EU’s Internal Market Information System has been accepted.

HO – UK participation in the European Arrest Warrant

Important because:

  • These EU documents examine Member States’ use of the European Arrest Warrant, identifying possible barriers to agreeing new arrangements for extradition/surrender between the UK and EU after the end of the transition period.

The Committee has a long-standing interest in this issue, and last wrote to the Security Minister in September. In his response, the Minister restates the Government position that future arrangements with the EU will not include any oversight role for the CJEU, but does not answer the question actually posed by the Committee: namely whether an existing EU-Iceland/Norway arrangement would be acceptable to the UK. The Committee’s report underlines its ongoing concerns over the lack of engagement with Parliament on this critical issue.

Further information

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