31 Oct 2019, 11.54

Committee B (European Affairs) of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly has published an interim report into European Security Cooperation after Brexit.

The report finds that data-sharing on criminal matters will be vital to ensuring the security of the UK, Ireland and wider EU after Brexit.

Barriers remain to UK’s continued access to key data sharing databases, notably SISII Second generation Schengen Information System (SISII), and the UK will likely lose these vital resources if its data protection environment is not up to standard.

The Committee recommends a renewed focus on averting the loss of access to critical data sharing mechanisms.

This includes preparing the UK to meet the necessary standards of data protection to enable continued access as well as investigating the potential for expanding Passenger Name Records to forms of international travel beyond aviation. It further calls for fallback arrangements to be developed to mitigate the loss of access in the case of a no deal Brexit

Launching the report, Committee Chair, Darren Millar said: “Existing data sharing arrangements between members of the European Union have played a crucial role in protecting member nations from terrorism and combatting serious organised crime. As the UK prepares to leave the EU, it is vital that all is done to mitigate the potential impact of the UK leaving critical data sharing mechanisms that help keep the UK, Ireland and other EU member states safe.

“In our report we urge all the parties involved in the Brexit negotiations to recognise the mutual benefit of continuing existing data sharing arrangement and make the necessary preparations to set the groundwork for its continuation.

"No matter what form Brexit takes, this is one area where divergence from the status quo creates an unacceptable risk."

Scrutiny of future security treaties

•The UK Government’s proposals for a strong role for Parliament in scrutinising post-Brexit free trade agreements are welcome, but they currently apply to those agreements only. The Committee recommends that the UK Government replicates the arrangements it has already proposed for scrutinising post-Brexit free trade agreements for security treaties.

•The Committee calls on the House of Commons Commission and House of Lords Commission to provide adequate resources for effective scrutiny of security treaties by the UK Parliament.

Data security and Passenger Name Records

•The UK, Ireland and wider EU have mutually beneficial interests in continuing security cooperation after Brexit. Stumbling blocks remain, however, especially in relation to the UK’s data protection laws. The Committee urges the UK Government, and UK/EU negotiators, to make data adequacy a focus of ongoing preparations for Brexit.

Policing

  •Witnesses told the Committee that fall-back arrangements in place in the case of a no-deal Brexit will not offer the same level of information sharing and cooperation, as was noted in the Committee’s first interim report.

  •The Committee urges the UK Government to ensure that UK police forces remain adequately resourced for the consequences of Brexit: both on the front line and in supporting officers adjust to longer-term changes in how they work.

Summary of Recommendations

  •The Committee recommends that the UK Government replicates the arrangements it has already proposed for scrutinising post-Brexit free trade agreements for security treaties.

  •The Committee calls on the House of Commons Commission and House of Lords Commission to provide adequate resources for effective scrutiny by the UK Parliament.

  •The Committee recommends that the UK Government and the UK/EU negotiators make data adequacy a focus of ongoing negotiations for Brexit.

  •The Committee recommends that consideration be given to the use of Passenger Name Records for passenger ferry journeys.

The report can be viewed here

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