Richard Walton, the former head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command SO15, says the UK could leave formal membership of Europol with little or no effect on the UK’s ability to maintain security.
He adds that the most important security arrangements are outside the remit of EU membership and that the UK is in a strong negotiating position in regard to security because the residual EU has more to lose if it proposed to reduce information sharing with the UK.
Key Points of Richard Walton’s report (attached):
· The UK’s engagement and collaboration with EU member states on matters relating to security and counter terrorism is mutually beneficial.
· The UK’s membership of the EU and Europol is more beneficial to the EU than to the UK in relation to security and counter terrorism; the UK could leave both with little, if any, impact on its own national security or counter-terrorism capabilities.
· The UK has the most proficient counter-terrorism operational capability of any state in Europe. UK intelligence agencies (MI5, MI6 and GCHQ) working with the UK Police Counter Terrorism Network (PCTN) have prevented numerous terrorist attacks both in the UK and other EU states in recent times through the sharing of intelligence and the disruptions of terrorist plots.
· At a current time of heightened threat of terrorism towards Europe, EU member states will continue to seek access to the UK’s counter-terrorism experience, intelligence and operational resources following the UK’s exit of the EU to avoid increasing the risk of terrorism in Europe.
· The EU will place a high priority on collaboration with the UK on national security and counter-terrorism following the UK’s withdrawal from membership of both the EU and Europol. The EU has a vested interest in ensuring that the UK continues to participate in the existing EU information sharing platforms (e.g. Shengen Information System, Prum, PNR) not least because the UK has unique access to intelligence from the ‘5 eyes’ intelligence sharing agreement (UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand).
· European and global collaboration between countries on national security and counter-terrorism operations will continue to take place between police and intelligence agencies regardless of EU Membership status.
· Post Brexit, the UK will continue to participate fully in global and European fora that exist to exchange intelligence and share best practice on national security and counter-terrorism (e.g. the ‘Club of Berne’ and the Police Working Group on Terrorism (PWGT)) because participation is not dependent on membership of the EU.