The Brexit agreement draft: how will this affect legal and police cooperation between the United Kingdom and the member states?

On 14 November 2018, the European Commission published the first agreement draft that the British government led by Theresa May has managed to reach, regarding the Brexit question. May appeared at 10 Downing Street to announce support for the agreement on behalf of her cabinet, a task that was by no means easy for the Prime Minister, due to the division that the Brexit negotiations have caused the British government. The Prime Minister defined it as “the best agreement that could have been negotiated”. Now, with the blessing of the two main protagonists, the text must be passed by the leaders of the 27 member states, who received the text on the day of its publication, and by the British Parliament, a step that is expected to be even more complicated than the previous ones.

The draft resolves some of the main uncertainties that arose with the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the Union: the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, the status of European citizens resident in the UK and of British citizens living on the continent, control of Gibraltar, the United Kingdom’s financial obligations and the commercial agreement. Apart from these subjects of great relevance and general interest, the agreement also devotes some pages to determine the disconnection of the United Kingdom in the area of police and legal collaboration.

Article 62 of the agreement establishes the continuity of collaboration in legal cases of judicial processes between the European Union and the United Kingdom during the transition period of withdrawal from the Union. Therefore, the process of execution of European arrest warrants will continue to be the same as present, until at least 31st December 2021, when the withdrawal transition period from the Union by the United Kingdom is expected to be completed. In such a way, the agreements established by the Council of Justice and Interior of the European Union will be upheld.

Similarly, during the transition period, the process of exchange of information referring to police records and penal records will continue to be the same as before the application of the Brexit initiative, via the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS), in order to streamline court proceedings in penal terms for the different member states of the Union. Once the transition period is completed, the ECRIS will stop functioning as a mechanism of information exchange between the United Kingdom and the remaining member states.

The same article also foresees the participation of the competent UK authorities in those investigation teams already in operation before the end of the transition process, with the same aim of consolidating cooperation between member states of the Union in penal cases. In order to finalise ongoing legal proceedings, Eurojust can continue to provide the UK with information and vice versa.

The agreement also foresees mechanisms for police activities and cooperation in United Kingdom territory and that of state members that the United Kingdom is involved with. These are established in article 63 of the draft.

Apart from the agreements in terms of police and judicial cooperation already mentioned, article 156 of the draft of the agreement establishes that the United Kingdom is obliged to continue to contribute, until the end of the transition period in December 2021, to the financing in accordance with Gross National Income (GNI) of different European agencies dedicated to security and defence issues: the European Defence Agency, the Institute of Security Studies of the European Union, the Centre of Satellites of the European Union. It will also have to continue to meet the proportional part of costs, in accordance with its Gross National Product (GNP) of the EU’s Common Policy operations of Security and Defence.

These contributions will have to be made in accordance with the principle of complete cooperation and good faith, established by article 5 of the draft. Both parts must take the necessary measures to ensure obligations arising from the Brexit agreement are fulfilled.

In the following link you can find the complete draft of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland withdrawal agreement from the European Union and from the European Atomic Energy Union, published on 14 November 2018:

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/betapolitical/files/draft_withdrawal_agreement_0.pdf

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