25 January 2018
The Home Affairs Select Committee is carrying out an Inquiry into the effect of Brexit on Justice and Home Affairs issues. The last Oral evidence session (pdf) was on 23 January 2018.
The Committee Chair asked Mr NIck Hurd (Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service, Home Office):
"Q117 Chair: Can you confirm it is still the Government’s intention to stay in all of the existing information databases?
Mr Nick Hurd: Correct.
Q118 Chair: Also in Europol as full members during the transition?
Mr Nick Hurd: Our broad intention, Chair, is to try to emerge from these negotiations with an outcome that is as close to the status quo as possible, but also to persuade our European partners that we can do better than that. (...)
The Minister seems to be saying the existing UK participation will continue:
"Q122 Chair: All I am trying to capture is whether this is a relationship you think is different to the relationship that we have now.
Mr Nick Hurd: Not materially, no.
Q123 Chair: You have disputed that, saying that it is better in some way, and I am trying to work out whether there is some structural arrangement and relationship with the EU that you think is better than our current structural relationship.
Mr Nick Hurd: In my mind, “better” is simply better than just stopping at a process of negotiating a settled agreement to protect existing capability because these mechanisms will evolve." (...)
As to the timing of an agreement on Justice and Home Affairs:
"Q130 Chair: Thank you. In terms of the timescale going forward, what is the latest you think you can get those transition arrangements agreed before you have to start bringing in contingency plans?
Mr Nick Hurd: As I said at the start, Chair, our stated intention is to conclude these by the end of March." (...)
And on Europol again:
"Douglas Ross: On that legal basis, during the transition period, while we remain within Europol but lose some of our influence potentially, in terms of chairmanship and voting rights and such like, what advice do you have on the impact of that? (...)
Shona Riach (Europe Director, Home Office):
As the Minister set out, what we are hoping for is this dynamic relationship where we will be able to continue to participate in discussions around the future of the security relationship, including in Europol.
Contrary to the general presumption that the UK will lose its "seat at the table" during the transition period:
"Chair: Can I clarify? You are saying that we will not be full members of Europol during the transition?
Shona Riach: No, sorry, during the transition period the intention is that we would be full members."
And exactly what does the government want?:
"Naz Shah: We are looking at the current model, so why are we not just pursuing to stay in it as it is? I am trying to understand it a bit more because it is not making sense to me.
Shona Riach: My intention was not to suggest that we would not stay in it just as it is, but that is one of the things that we would be discussing as part of the negotiations.
Q161 Naz Shah: Are we pursuing to keep the European Arrest Warrant or an overarching treaty, because they are two different things?
Shona Riach: No. What we are pursuing is an overarching treaty that would include a number of different measures, including the European Arrest Warrant. On the European Arrest Warrant, specifically, the priority would be to maintain the capability that that provides. That could either be that the overarching treaty provides continued membership of the European Arrest Warrant, or it could be that the overarching treaty provides equivalent capability."
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