EU-UK: Brexit means... the UK staying in the G6

"Brexit means Brexit" was a remarkably meaningless slogan coined by former UK prime minister Theresa May. In practice, it appears that one thing Brexit does mean is the UK staying part of the G6, an informal annual meeting that was originally set up to facilitate discussion and coordination between the interior ministers of the six largest EU member states, alongside representatives of the European Commission and the USA.

The UK appears to have kept its seat at the table and was the host of this year's G6 meeting, which, according to the Home Office, focused on migrant smuggling and "online harms".

One approach to tackling "online harms" favoured by the G6 (along with the EU and the Five Eyes spy alliance) involves "addressing issues caused by end to end encryption," shorthand for undermining encryption to the detriment of all users of a given technology.

However, the Home Office's press release is short on substance as to how this might be done.

The press release also notes that "G6 partners agreed to utilise Interpol more effectively to enhance law enforcement cooperation across the world," with increased use of Interpol being one of the UK's key proposed means for maintaining law enforcement cooperation with EU states post-Brexit.

Full-text of the Home Office press release (originally published here on 24 March 2021):

Priti Patel leads G6 on security threats and illegal migration

The Home Secretary met interior ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain at a virtual G6.

Priti Patel led a discussion with international partners on increasing cooperation to tackle online harms, illegal migration and dismantle the crime gangs exploiting desperate people.

The Home Secretary met interior ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain, alongside representatives of the United States and the EU Commission at a virtual G6 today.

G6 partners agreed to utilise Interpol more effectively to enhance law enforcement cooperation across the world, discussed the need to do more to tackle illegal migration, and action needed to break up abhorrent organised crime gangs who operate across national boundaries.

The UK’s hosting of the G6 comes as the UK government launches landmark changes to fix the UK asylum system and replace it with a new system which is fair but firm.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

I’ve held extensive discussions today with my G6 counterparts on the key challenges which affect us all.

Serious organised criminals cause death and despair by bringing people across Europe and into the UK in unsafe conditions often in the back of freezing cold lorries or across the channel in small boats.

It is vital that the international community continues to work together to help save lives and break the business model of the crime gangs and people smugglers responsible for perilous journeys.

Working with our allies and partners we can better enhance our law enforcement cooperation, crack down on organised gangs and tackle illegal migration across the continent. Together, sharing intelligence and expertise, can we continue to keep our citizens safe.

The G6 has agreed to improve its understanding of how criminal gangs - such as those behind Channel crossings - operate so governments are better armed to stop them.

Ministers also agreed greater coordination and a global response to ensure that there is no safe space for terrorists or those who would sexually exploit and abuse children to operate online, including by addressing issues caused by end to end encryption.

The Home Secretary was joined by National Crime Agency Director General Lynne Owens, and the Home Office Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft.

Italy will be hosting the G6 2022 meeting.

Image: duncan c, CC BY-NC 2.0


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