By: Anders Fogh Rasmussen
A no-deal would aid terrorism in the UK and across Europe
The United Kingdom has begun to contemplate the prospect of no Brexit deal by the March 2019 deadline. The economic impact would be significant, but with contingency plans under preparation, there are ways to try to mitigate the worst aspects. However, in the fight against terror, a no-deal scenario – and therefore no EU-UK close cooperation – is hardly an option. Put bluntly, without a deal, the UK and Europe face the possibility of homeland data flows, and police and judicial cooperation, being turned off within hours. This would give free rein to terrorists, traffickers and organised criminals, and both sides must prepare now to prevent such an unthinkable scenario materialising.
The architect of much of the EU’s recent internal security architecture is Theresa May herself. It comprises a complex spider’s web of data flows, interconnected legislation, IT networks and cross-border police work and cooperation.
Take just data flows alone. The UK and EU routinely exchange significant amounts of sensitive information, including on fingerprints and DNA. Soon they will share passenger flight data, which helps to build up a picture of suspicious cross-border patterns of behaviour. The value of this data exchange is so high that the EU is taking steps to strengthen the interconnection and inter-operability of different systems. These moves were championed by the UK as a means of improving efficiency – but paradoxically, after Brexit the extra complexity makes finding an agreement technically more challenging and time-consuming.
This is just one area of cooperation, but there are others, such as joint work through Europol, the European Police Agency (at present headed by a highly able Welshman), which coordinates everything from cross-border investigations to countering online radicalisation and detecting cyber-criminals.
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