Pulling out of Europol would make post-Brexit UK vulnerable to terrorism – agency chief
Britain’s continued relationship with Europol is “absolutely necessary” to keep the country safe from future terrorist attacks, the agency’s British boss has warned.
Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, the EU law enforcement agency, has called on the British government to secure its relationship with the organization, which could become one of Brexit’s principal casualties.
“It is important for Britain to get this right. It is about the security of the country. Not just the security of Britain, but of Europe,” Wainwright said.
Brexit would mean the UK’s relationship with Europol would automatically end. But Wainwright, a former MI5 intelligence analyst, said continued cooperation is still possible.
“It is a big issue and we need to get the details right of what those arrangements could be,” he said.
Wainwright, who is likely to be Europol’s last British director, is also pushing for the government to maintain its involvement in the European Arrest Warrant, as it is “one of the most important things” any country in Europe can “rely” on.
“We are dealing with thousands of cases every year between these countries of very serious criminals, and even terrorists, that are identified and extradited under the terms of the warrant.”
The Europol director says the EU is also unlikely to want to miss out on the high level intelligence resources that Britain provides.
But Wainwright has faced a backlash by UKIP home affairs spokeswoman Jane Collins, who pointed out that the UK already gets intelligence cues as part of the so-called Five Eyes, a multilateral agreement with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the USA.
“The fact is we give Europol more intelligence than they [EU] give us and they are not invited to be part of Five Eyes because of concerns about leaking.
“And what is more important is properly funded security services and military and secure borders.
“We will be a more secure nation if we don't have free movement of terrorists and weapons which Schengen has brought right to our doorstep.”
Wainwright’s warning comes after MI6 head Alex Younger warned that the UK faced an “unprecedented” scale of terrorist threat.
While claiming police had thwarted 12 terrorist plots since June 2013, he said many of the threats to the UK come from poorly governed countries in the Middle East such as Syria and Iraq.
Younger also warned about cyberattacks, which are becoming an “increasingly dangerous phenomenon.”
“The risks at stake are profound and represent a fundamental threat to our sovereignty,” he said.
“They should be a concern to all those who share democratic values.”
Younger’s warning reflects MI5’s belief that the current threat level for terrorism in the UK is “severe.”