The Prime Minister’s Munich Security Conference Speech – Stated Aims for Future Security Cooperation

On 17th February 2018 the PM delivered a speech to the Munich Security Conference in which she underlined the importance of cooperation on both internal and external security matters, highlighting that the UK’s contribution to EU security bodies is vital for the security of both European citizens and cities. The PM highlighted the benefit to both the EU and UK of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) which, in particular, has enabled smooth extraditions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and UK’s contribution to the Schengen Information System II.

The PM further underlined the need for mutual political will to deliver comprehensive cooperation. Despite no current arrangement on this scale between the EU and a third country, the PM did not envisage why a comprehensive agreement could not be reached. However, should this be the case then current, successful mechanisms such as the EAW, the European Investigation Order and Europol would be adversely affected. The PM then proposed a new treaty, which should be implemented with urgency, for the future internal security relationship between the EU and the UK, which respect legal sovereignties, include bespoke arrangements on data protection and to ensure adaptability to a changing and evolving threat landscape.

ADS has previous argued that efficient intelligence sharing, access to EU databases, law enforcement and judicial cooperation, and coherent crisis management are all mutually beneficial for both the UK and the remaining EU Member States. Therefore, ADS is encouraged by the PM’s recognition of the truly international nature of the current security challenge and the importance of working across European borders to ensure the security of British and European citizens. ADS welcomes the PM’s proposal of a comprehensive new treaty to underpin a strong and open security relationship, and we urge that, in the course of productive negotiations, the UK and EU both continue to recognise the considerable mutual benefits of continued close cooperation.

In addition to the security bodies highlighted above, it is also in the best interests, both from a commercial and national security perspective, for the UK to be actively engaged in cross-EU R&D activities. While the UK plays a leading role in research and development globally, collaboration across countries offers many benefits and, in this particular case, benefits both the UK and EU member states. A prime example of this, Horizon 2020 funding, focuses on a range of critical security issues and the UK has consistently been a beneficiary of this programme. Therefore, ADS urges the Government to continue to explore ways in which it can remain an active part of EU R&D activities, such as security R&D funding through H2020.

Likewise, it is important that the UK security sector retains access to both its EU customer base and procurement organisations. Customs and border controls could add significant administrative costs and cause delays at UK or EU borders, harming both UK and EU based businesses. Therefore, the continued freedom of barrier-free trade, as well as to move materials, goods, and personnel, should be the core tenant of any security ‘union’ and should be a central focus for the UK Government as negotiations on the future security relationship progress.