Intense trade talks are still underway as the EU and UK continue to negotiate a post-Brexit deal. But, with the UK due to leave the union in January, there are still a number of areas to address.
One of these areas is the UK’s access to the EU’s police and security database. This has been a vital tool in recent years, but some MEPs believe the UK’s access should end next year.
For example, MEP Tanja Fajon, who chairs the EU’s border-free Schengen zone working group, says that the UK cannot continue to have access to the major database, known as the Schengen Information System, after it leaves the EU.
The system is currently used by police and border guards in all 27 Schengen member states. It contains important information for fighting crime, such as data on suspected criminals, missing persons, and stolen property.
Despite not being a member of the Schengen zone, the UK has had access to the database since 2015 on a restricted basis. The purpose of this was to enhance security on both sides.
But, with the UK no longer part of the European Union and the transition period due to end, negotiations for a post-2020 partnership are underway. In light of this, many MEPs are pressing to ensure the UK no longer has access to police databases.
Several UK police figures, including head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Martin Hewitt and director of the National Crime Agency Steve Rodhouse, have warned the loss could have serious operational impacts.
However, in a report,Tanja Fajon noted that there is no legal basis for the UK to keep its access to the system from next year.
It’s now assumed that after the UK is cut off from the Schengen database, it will seek to cooperate on a larger scale with Interpol, which is the largest international police organisation. This could prove to be difficult and would require integration, but would be essential for security.
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