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Brexit will lead to more EU law for UK’s criminal justice systems, according to new report

Future EU-UK cooperation on security and criminal justice is dependant on the extent to which the UK complies with key EU law standards according to a new report by a taskforce from Queen Mary’s School of Law and the Centre for European Policy Studies.

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The report, Criminal Justice and Police Cooperation between the EU and the UK after Brexit: Towards a principled and trust-based partnership, sets out a variety of possible options for post-Brexit cooperation between the UK and EU.

The taskforce found that if the UK wishes to continue cooperating with the EU on matters of criminal justice and policing then it is dependant on a number of variables, including the UK’s continued participation in the European Court of Human Rights. If the UK deviates from this then any future cooperation could be terminated.

UK position ‘not compatible’ with EU’s

The shift from the UK’s status as EU Member State to third country raises questions of how to develop and sustain a partnership on security and criminal justice.

The taskforce found that the UK’s current proposal to sustain cooperation on the basis of existing measures is not compatible with the EU’s position, according to which third countries do not benefit from privileged access to EU mechanisms. The UK’s participation in EU databases such as the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) would not be able to be maintained after Brexit, since access is only granted to EU countries.

Duplication of existing models ‘insufficient’

The report found that reverting to extra-EU organisations such as the Council of Europe or United Nations, to frame EU-UK judicial cooperation in criminal matters would be insuffient.

The taskforce also highlight that duplicating existing models, such as the current EU agreements with Iceland and Norway is also problematic since both are in Schengen, unlike the UK. Schengen countries have absolished passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders, the UK opted out.

Valsamis Mitsilegas, Professor of European Criminal Law and Global Securty at Queen Mary University of London, said: “Our report highlights the complexities which have arisen in negotiations concerning the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Throughout the past decades, the UK has carved its own special status into the EU areas of freedom, security and justice. The UK is unlikely to enjoy the same status post-Brexit.”

More information

The full report, Criminal Justice and Police Cooperation between the EU and the UK after Brexit: Towards a principled and trust-based partnership, is available here.

The Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) is an independent think tank based in Brussels.

The taskforce between between Queen Mary University of London and CEPS examined key issues, main opinions and alternative models for EU–UK cooperation on issues related to security and justice after Brexit.

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