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European Criminals May Benefit From Cliff-Edge Brexit

  • Treaty has secured the return of 1,000 individuals to the U.K.
  • Report cites difficulty of side deals for Norway, Iceland

The lapse of an agreement providing for the extradition of criminals between the U.K. and the European Union it plans to exit is an "unacceptable risk," according to a report from the House of Lords that raises questions about how a transitional or post-Brexit arrangement can be struck.

The European Arrest Warrant, which facilitates the extradition of criminals between European countries, has resulted in the return of 1,000 individuals to the U.K. since it was introduced. Any gap between its expiry and a similar deal renewing the convention could pose an “unacceptable risk” to the U.K., the Lords’ EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee said in a report published Thursday. The government could seek a bilateral agreement with the EU that mirrors the EAW’s provisions, but Norway and Iceland have spent years trying to negotiate a similar deal, according to the report.

Lord Michael Hastings Jay, chairman of the committee, noted comments in March from Home Secretary Amber Rudd "that it was a priority for the Government to ensure that we remain part of the EAW arrangement."

"This is welcome," Jay said, "but it was not clear to the Committee how this objective will be compatible with the Government’s plans to remove the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice, let alone other aspects of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.”

Getting a transition deal for Britain while also preserving the authority of EU bodies like the European Court of Justice will be one of the U.K.’s main priorities in the coming negotiations with Europe. 

After staunch supporters of Brexit in government initially dismissed the need for such a deal, the Conservatives are increasingly rallying behind avoiding a cliff-edge Brexit. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said Wednesday the U.K. would seek to start talks on a transition arrangement as soon as September.

— With assistance by Suzi Ring

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