Parliament notified by Policing Minister of Government’s Europol opt-in intention

Policing Minister Brandon Lewis has notified Parliament of the Conservative Government’s intention to opt-in to Regulation (EU) 2016/794 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Co-operation (Europol), in line with its right to do so under Protocol 21 to the European Union (EU) Treaties.

The new regulation affords a legal footing to the new framework for Europol and replicates much of the UK’s own approach to tackling online terrorism propaganda and cyber crime.

In an explanatory memorandum, laid before Parliament on Monday 14 November, the Policing Minister put forward the Home Office’s intention to opt-in to the revised Europol framework outlined in the regulation. This regulation replaces the existing regulation that governs the operation of Europol on 1 May 2017.

This decision will now be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny, after which time the European Commission will be notified of the UK Government’s intention.

Europol is an agency which aims to strengthen and facilitate co-operation in preventing serious crimes and combating organised criminality, in particular where crimes affect two or more EU Member States.

The UK has been a member of the agency since its creation in 1998, and chose to opt-in back in 2014 when the UK negotiated the right to choose which justice and home affairs matters of which it would be a part.

A new opt-in decision is now required following changes to the legal framework underpinning the agency.

Cross-border crime: the reality remains

Brandon Lewis

Brandon Lewis

Brandon Lewis stated: “The UK is leaving the EU, but the reality of cross-border crime remains. Europol provides a valuable service to the UK, and opting-in would enable us to maintain our current access to the agency until we leave the EU, helping to keep the people of Britain safe. We now await the outcome of the scrutiny process.”

The revised Europol framework was first proposed on 27 March 2013 and adopted on 11 May this year. Revisions include giving a clear mandate to the EU Internet Referrals Unit (which replicates the UK’s approach to tackling online terrorist propaganda) and giving the existing European Cyber Crime Centre a clear mandate as a “union [centre] of specialised expertise for combating certain types of crime”.

Now that the Government has notified Parliament, the intention to opt-in will be thoroughly examined and assessed by the House of Commons and House of Lords EU Scrutiny Committee. The Government will then notify the European Commission of its position.

The Government is exploring numerous options for co-operation with Europol once the UK has left the EU, but it’s too early to speculate at this stage what any future arrangements may look like.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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