Sources claim the French are frustrating Britain’s offer to remain part of a European Union (EU) security agreement that helped identify terrorists involved in Islamic State attacks on Paris, despite France recently encouraging the British to join.
The British government wants assurances that, after Brexit, they will still have access to valuable fingerprints, DNA profiles, and vehicle details linked to investigations and foreign criminals. Ministers have said participation is in the “national interest” to keep the United Kingdom safe, as well as the EU.
However, the UK’s request to stay part of the so-called “Prüm Convention” is being pushed back, with France leading the resistance, The Times reports.
A senior government figure told the newspaper: “Normally France is quite helpful when it comes to security co-operation but on this they are being awkward.”
The French want the decision referred to the unelected European Commission, but other nations, including Germany, are reportedly happy for Britain to continue accessing the database.
Brexit: Hungary Sides with UK as EU Attempts to Shut British Out of Galileo Space Project https://t.co/vL5QVfQiDi
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 26, 2018
Steve Smart, director of intelligence at the National Crime Agency, told a parliamentary hearing: “The impact of losing access to those datasets is that more bad people will get into the UK and it will be harder for us to find and deal with them.”
Richard Martin, deputy commissioner at the Metropolitan Police, added: “It is so important to have access to as much data as we can: to track people, to track property, to understand where the threat is.
“If we lose access to that database, in summary, that means we do not have as clear a picture as we have now.”
Interestingly, France was one of the EU member-states pushing for the UK to stay involved in the Galileo satellite project, which the European Commission has said should not be extended to third-party countries outside the bloc.
#France is not blocking a "#Brexit deal on security". In reality, 🇷 was among the countries asking the #UK to join the Prüm treaty to begin with. The post-Brexit relationship is being negociated by @EU_Commission, with full support of all member states – including France 🇺 pic.twitter.com/MvjjeSwjNd
— Romain Raoux (@RomainRaoux) May 31, 2018
France and the Department for Exiting the EU refused to comment Wednesday night on Britain’s attempt to join Prüm.
However, Romain Raoux, deputy spokesman for the French Embassy in the United Kingdom, said on Twitter that the issue was one for Jean-Claude Juncker and the unelected European Commission to decide.
A European diplomatic source close to the matter told The Times: “This is difficult to believe. France was one of the member-states which had asked the UK to opt into the Prüm system in the past.
“The technicalities regarding the UK’s possible participation in the Prüm system are being discussed by the relevant technical groups, and there are no difficulties in principle.”