British MEP ‘very worried’ about post-Brexit security efforts

Claude Moraes. Brussels, February 2014. [Stephanie Lecocq/EPA]

The chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) of the European Parliament said he is “concerned” about Brexit’s effects on the fight against terrorism in the UK and the EU. EURACTIV Spain reports.

“I am very worried that cooperation between the EU and the UK on counterterrorism will be hindered after Brexit, particularly within international organisations such as Europol,” said British Labour MEP Claude Moraes (S&D), in an interview with EURACTIV.

Moraes highlighted that even if a deal is reached with London on Europol following Brexit in 2019, the cooperation “will never be the same” from outside the EU.

He feared sensitive information could be treated as “bargaining chips” in the negotiations between London and Brussels.

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From sharing intelligence after terror attacks to pursuing cross-border criminals, security is a potential bargaining chip for Britain in the Brexit negotiations – but one that must be played carefully, analysts say.

A great deal to lose

“Both the UK and the EU stand to lose a great deal from a weakening of cooperation, as London has a high anti-terror intelligence capacity thanks to MI5 and MI6 [British secret services],” he said.

On the other hand, Moraes expressed his doubts on London’s future rules on European arrest warrants. The area is of special interest for Spain, he said, given past mutual assistance between the two countries in executing international arrests.

Moraes, who objects to “populist responses” to terrorism, does not think Europe has been through the worst of the terrorist threat yet.

“”I don’t doubt we will win this vicious battle, but I don’t think we’re nearly there yet,” said the British lawmaker, who expressed his condolences to the victims of the Barcelona attacks, and was deeply touched by the death of many young victims, including a seven-years-old British child.

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Theresa May’s decision to link future security cooperation with Europe to the outcome of a trade deal is damaging for the Brexit talks. In the contrary, a deal on security could set a positive tone for the very difficult trade negotiations, argues Rem Korteweg.

“A referendum against immigration”

Asked whether the special committee on anti-terrorism measures in the Parliament – launching in September 2017- was a populist measure, Moraes said he was confident it will be “useful” to “focus the attention of the media on something so crucial such as European cooperation on counterterrorism, and what is still left to do”.

A Labour Europhile, Moraes arrived in London as a young child from India, and has been a staunch critic of the Brexit campaign, which he described as a “referendum against immigration”.

“The result did not surprise me because the British right and the press in my country have been campaigning for three decades to take London out of the EU, which they describe as a corrupted body and the source of immigration,” he said.

Moraes said he was aware in 2014 that he might be part of the last batch of British MEPs in history.

Immigration topped concerns for Brexit voters

Migration was the main motivation for almost half of Leave voters in the Brexit referendum, but areas with the most immigrants tended to vote Remain. EURACTIV’s partner La Tribune reports.

London is “gambling” with citizens’ rights

“Not only the press and the governing party attack Brussels every day, but no mainstream media explains to the British public what the EU has done and does for them,” pointed out the lawmaker, who noticed how on the continent, European flags are omnipresent, as a sign of identity and participation.

As chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), he is worried about London’s initial proposal concerning the rights and obligations of European citizens wishing to keep living in the UK, and who will be required to apply for a new document.

“They said they would not bargain over citizens’ rights, but this is exactly what they’re doing,” he said.

“The proposal is very disappointing because it curtails European citizens’ rights in the UK. It will be interesting to see now what other member states will do with British citizens in states like Spain, the country hosting the largest number of British expats – mostly third-age citizens who do not learn the language, are retired and badly integrated,” he concluded.

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