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Negotiators spend only an hour on post-Brexit security discussions: Westminster report

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-07-11 23:14

LONDON - British and European Union negotiators spent just little more than an hour discussing security arrangements after Brexit, the chairman of a House of Lords committee said on Wednesday.

"We heard evidence that, by mid-May, the UK and EU negotiators had spent little more than an hour discussing the future internal security relationship, despite the obvious mutual interest in making rapid progress. The safety of UK and EU citizens demands that the negotiators turn urgently to this vital task," the committee chairman Lord Jay said.

Meanwhile, a report published by the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee called on Theresa May's government and the EU to make pragmatic compromises on security matters to achieve the over-riding objective of protecting the safety of British and EU citizens after Brexit.

The committee warned that operational continuity and the security of both Britain and the EU would be seriously undermined, were there to be an abrupt end to cooperation in March 2019 when Britain's membership of the bloc comes to an end.

The committee welcomed the agreement of both the British government and the EU that the UK will continue with security measures it currently participates in during a post-Brexit transition period.

In its future partnership paper on security, law enforcement and criminal justice, the British government has called for a partnership between the UK and EU "that goes beyond the existing, often ad hoc arrangement for EU third-country relationships", and has supported the idea of a UK-EU treaty that would provide "a legal basis" for continued cooperation.

The committee says it supports the government's ambition to continue security cooperation after Brexit, but there is no evidence that sufficient progress has yet been made in the negotiations. The report adds the committee believes it is unlikely that such a treaty can be agreed in the time available.

Jay added: "The UK and the EU share a deep interest in maintaining the closest possible police and security cooperation after Brexit. Protecting the safety of millions of UK and EU citizens must be the over-riding objective. But time is short, and neither side has yet approached the negotiations in this spirit."

Jay concluded: "It's time for pragmatic compromises, on the UK side, and also on the EU side. Red lines won't save people's lives -- getting agreement on effective police and security cooperation will."

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