Brexit: the proposed UK-EU security treaty

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Series Details (2017-19)HL164
Publication Date 11/07/2018
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On the 11 July 2018 the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee of the House of Lords EU Select Committee published a report Brexit: the proposed UK-EU security treaty.

The Committee called on the Government and EU to make pragmatic compromises on security matters to achieve the over-riding objective of protecting the safety of UK and EU citizens after Brexit.


EU Member States currently enjoyed levels of cooperation and mutual recognition that went far deeper than any comparable international collaborations. In its September 2017 future partnership paper on security, law enforcement and criminal justice, the Government called for a partnership between the UK and EU 'that goes beyond the existing, often ad hoc arrangement for EU third-country relationships', and has supported the idea of a UK-EU treaty that would provide 'a legal basis' for continued cooperation.

In its report, the Committee examined the feasibility of the Government's ambition to negotiate a single, comprehensive security treaty with the EU.

Key findings

+ The Committee supported the Government's ambition to continue security cooperation after Brexit, but there was no evidence that sufficient progress had yet been made in the negotiations. The Committee believed it was unlikely that such a treaty could be agreed in the time available.

+ Operational continuity and the security of both the UK and EU would be seriously undermined were there to be an abrupt end to cooperation in March 2019. The Committee therefore welcomed the agreement of both the UK Government and the EU that UK participation in those JHA measures in which the UK currently participated will continue during the transition period.

+ The Committee supported in principle the Government's objective of securing a cross-cutting agreement on data protection. But this meant that the sequencing of the negotiations would be vital: if future security cooperation was to be effective, the Government must reach an agreement on data before agreeing a security treaty.

+ The Committee also noted that in some areas security cooperation would have to change post-Brexit. For instance, some EU states, including Germany, were constitutionally barred from extraditing their own nationals to non-EU states. The Government had yet to provide any evidence-based analysis of the effect of such changes.

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Related Links
ESO: In Focus: Brexit - The United Kingdom and the European Union
UK: Parliament: House of Lords: Committees: News, 11.07.18: Lords urge Government and EU to change mindset on Brexit security negotiations
ESO: Find more information in ESO on Brexit and the proposed Security Partnership
RUSI: Briefing Paper, February 2018: Brexit and European Security
UK: Parliament: House of Lords: Committees: News, 02.11.18: Government responds to security treaty report
UK: GOV.UK: Foreign & Commonwealth Office: News, 15.10.18: Foreign Secretary to highlight importance of continued European security cooperation

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