UK-EU police cooperation could halt without action on trade agreement, MPs warn
4 April 2023
UK-EU cooperation on cross border policing could end if proposed changes to EU rules on police database information sharing enter into force without a deal to update the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
If the UK Government does not align with the EU’s proposed ‘Prüm 2’ proposals, UK police could be locked out of EU-wide databases and blocked from accessing critical biometric information on criminals operating in Europe, the European Scrutiny Committee has said. This could have significant consequences for the Government’s ability to target organised crime operating across borders.
In the Committee’s latest analysis of new or proposed EU laws that could impact the UK, Chairman Sir William Cash MP has written to the Security Minister, Tom Tugendhat MP, requesting clarity on how the Government intends to respond to the EU’s Prüm 2’ proposals and whether the status quo of cooperation remains an option. He asks the Government to confirm that it will publish a full impact assessment before taking any decision on changes to the TCA and underlines the need for effective Parliamentary scrutiny.
Since leaving the European Union, the UK has remained aligned with the EU on police cooperation through its trade agreement with the bloc, which replicates the earlier ‘Prüm 1’ rules. The EU’s proposed ‘Prüm II’ Regulation would expand cross-border police cooperation to include digital facial images, police records and possibly driving licences.
Under the terms of the UK/EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) the EU may suspend existing Prüm cooperation if the if the EU rules are “substantially” changed and the UK does not agree to have those changes reflected in the TCA.
In his letter, Sir William also raises concerns about the expanded scope of the ‘Prüm 2’ proposals. The proposed changes “would increase the amount of personal data that could be searched by automated means and shared with the UK’s law enforcement counterparts in the EU,” he writes. “As the pool of searchable data increases, so too does the risk of false matches and wrongful incrimination.”
Also in today’s publication:
North Seas Energy Cooperation
Significant steps have been made towards UK-EU cooperation on developing offshore renewable energy through the North Seas Energy Cooperation.
UK-EU electricity trading arrangements
Through its trade deal with the EU, the UK government committed to cooperating with the EU on trading electricity. Disagreement over the Northern Ireland Protocol slowed this goal, but more recently, progress has been made.
Standards for equality bodies
The Northern Ireland Protocol commits the UK government to ensuring that equality protections in Northern Ireland do not fall behind the EU’s core equality laws. The government is yet to make clear whether two proposed EU directives setting out minimum standards for national equality bodies responsible for enforcing these laws would require changes to equality laws in Northern Ireland.
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