Barnier: UK needs to show ‘realism’, will be shut out of Arrest Warrant

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned that the UK's opposition to freedom of movement makes access to the European Arrest Warrant impossible. [European Commission]

The UK needs a reality check and will not be able to remain part of the European Arrest Warrant after it leaves the European Union, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the headquarters of the bloc’s agency on Fundamental Rights in Vienna on Tuesday (19 June), Michel Barnier issued a blunt warning that the UK would not enjoy the same access to police, judicial and security instruments when the 21-month transition period that follows its formal departure from the EU ends in December 2020.

“We need more realism on what is possible and what is not when a country is outside of the EU’s area of justice, freedom and security and outside of Schengen,” said Barnier.

“The UK has decided to leave the EU, its institutions, structures and safeguards. It will be a third country, outside Schengen and outside the EU’s legal order. This is a fact. Facts have consequences.”

He hinted that future UK-EU co-operation on extradition would be dependent on the UK remaining party to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Barnier accused some in the UK of seeking to “maintain all the benefits of the current relationship while leaving the EU regulatory, supervision, and application framework. And they try to blame us for the consequences of their decision.”

He also confirmed that the UK would need an adequacy decision from the Commission on its data protection standards.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference in February, UK Prime Minister Theresa May set out her plan to negotiate a separate defence and security treaty with the EU.

In a paper published in late May, the UK government hinted that it would like a new ‘Internal Security Treaty’ to cover the more than 40 EU measures on police and judicial co-operation that it is currently signed up to.

UK officials believe that a new deal on security and police co-operation with the EU should be far easier than the trade side of Brexit negotiations.

Their proposal in May would involve the UK remaining part of Europol, the agency which coordinates police intelligence across the EU, and the European Arrest Warrant, which allows criminal suspects to be extradited to face trial in another EU country.

However, Barnier insisted that this would not be possible.

“The UK is not ready to accept the free movement of people, the jurisdiction of the Court and the Charter of Fundamental Rights,” he said.

“This means that the UK cannot take part in the European Arrest Warrant”.

UK officials would also not be able to take part in meetings of the Europol and Eurojust management boards, Barnier added.

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