The Implications of Brexit on the UK’s National Security and Counter-Terrorism Capabilities

The Implications of Brexit on the UK’s National Security and Counter-Terrorism Capabilities

National security and countering terrorism were at the heart of the British government’s campaign to remain in the EU prior to the referendum but now that the country has voted to leave, what will the EU’s negotiating posture be towards the UK on matters of national security and counter terrorism?

Key Points

    • 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.


Brexit, National Security and Counter-Terrorism

Upon returning from an intense EU summit in Brussels on 20th February 2016 and having negotiated Britain’s EU ‘settlement’, our then Prime Minister David Cameron announced to the nation the date of the referendum as 24th June 2016. During a speech delivered to the nation from the steps of 10 Downing Street, Mr Cameron placed a high level of importance on remaining in the EU for reasons of national security and countering terrorism

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