Intelligence on terrorists will be deleted from EU databases after a no-deal Brexit, former security commissioner warns

  • British intelligence on terrorists and serious criminals would be deleted from EU databases in the event of a no-deal Brexit, a former EU security commissioner has claimed.
  • Sir Julian King, the UK's last commissioner in Brussels, said that the UK would instantly lose access to a range of EU databases which share data about criminals from across the EU.
  • 'UK [security] data that was held in EU systems could, indeed would, be deleted, if there was no data adequacy arrangement covering how you share data,' said King.
  • The UK and EU appear to be inching closer towards agreeing a Brexit deal, but Brussels and London have warned that several thorny issues need to be resolved before any agreement can be signed off.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

British intelligence gathered on terrorists and other criminals would be deleted in the event of a no-deal Brexit, a former EU commissioner has claimed, in a stark warning which comes as both sides attempt to thrash out the terms of a deal.

Sir Julian King, the EU's former security commissioner and a high-ranking British diplomat, said on Wednesday that the UK government would lose access to multiple EU databases if it failed to agree a post-Brexit deal with Brussels.

"UK [intelligence] data that was held in EU systems could, indeed would, be deleted, if there was no data adequacy arrangement covering how you share data," King said at a briefing organised by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI),in comments reported by the Guardian.

He said the UK would be disconnected from the European Criminal Records Information System, a database which shares information about prior convictions of criminals across all EU countries, as well as others.

John Scarlett, the former chief of MI6, the UK's foreign intelligence service, warned at the same event that counter-terrorism operations would be harder in the event that Britain left the EU without a deal.

"If there's a weakening of data capability and data exchange capability and subsequently investigative capability in the EU and or the UK, then that clearly  […]  potentially weakens our ability to respond to the Islamic jihadi threat," he said, in comments reported by the Financial Times.

The UK will not have direct access to the EU's massive criminal database, called the Schengen Information System, regardless of whether both sides agree a deal, Brussels officials have told the Guardian newspaper.

They say that non-EU members which are not signed up to free movement can not legally access the information. But British officials hope they can agree a similar, albeit probably more basic, data-sharing system in the event of a deal.

King's comments come as the UK and EU try to finalise the terms of a Brexit deal covering trade and other arrangements, with talks having made reasonable progress in recent weeks.

Both sides want to agree the terms of a deal before the EU Council in mid-October, but there reportedly remain important sticking points in areas including fishing and state aid provisions.

It comes after Boris Johnson on Tuesday passed legislation which rows back on some parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement he signed in November.

Johnson claimed the move was necessary to ensure the continuing passage of goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, but critics said the move, as well as being illegal under international law, represented an act of bad faith in negotiations.

Michael Roth, Germany's Europe minister, wrote in an open letter published by Der Spiegel this week that it was not helpful for Britain to "play games" and urged Boris Johnson to compromise on some of his red lines in talks.

Roth said: "With readiness to compromise from both sides, with mutual trust and good will, a fair deal is still possible.

"But it is not helpful to play games. The kind of deal we are after has no winners and losers. What we need now is that much-vaunted British pragmatism of which we were always a little envious."

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