Labour MEPs: Appointment of new EU Security Commissioner shows UK continues to have strong, positive role in Europe

The appointment of a new British Commissioner to the Security Union portfolio will ensure the UK continues to have a strong, positive role in Europe, Labour MEPs have said ahead of Commissioner-designate Sir Julian King’s confirmation hearing. He will be questioned by MEPs on the European Parliament civil liberties, justice and home affairs (LIBE) committee this evening, followed by a vote of all MEPs on Thursday.

The main responsibilities of the Security Union include addressing the threat posed by returning foreign terrorist fighters; preventing and fighting radicalisation; sanctioning terrorists and their backers; improving information exchange; strengthening the European Counter Terrorism Centre; cutting the access of terrorists to firearms and explosives; cutting access of terrorists to funds; and protecting citizens and critical infrastructures.

Claude Moraes MEP, chair of the LIBE committee, said:

“The proposed appointment of a new British commissioner for the Security Union means the UK will continue to have a strong, positive role in Europe. The role is an opportunity to make a real difference in the fight against terrorism by improving intelligence sharing throughout the EU and responding to radicalisation.

“It is also a sign that, while Britain’s membership of key EU agreements is at risk, in the coming years Britain will continue to play an important role in promoting security and information sharing between the police and intelligence communities. The benefits of this cooperation are clear and we should negotiate continued access to these schemes even after Britain has left the EU.”

“Sir Julian’s appearance today will enable MEPs to scrutinise the work of the new Commissioner, and to emphasise the importance of promoting security cooperation throughout the EU while ensuring that this does not compromise our fundamental rights and values.”

Mr Moraes added:

“Our key priorities include making sure existing EU security legislation is fully implemented by national governments so citizens can benefit from better security cooperation throughout Europe. It will be up to the Commission to maintain the pressure for effective implementation to ensure EU security legislation is put into practice – including, where necessary, considering the use of infringement proceedings against Member States who fail to fulfil their treaty obligations.

“We must also ensure important legislation such as the Prüm Convention on the exchange of key intelligence data between EU countries is properly implemented to help security services prevent possible future attacks. Equally, governments must be encouraged to make greater use of existing facilities in order to improve intelligence sharing. These include schemes such as the Schengen Information System to flag up wanted or missing persons, Eurojust – which enables the exchange of information on terrorist offences – and Interpol’s database on stolen and lost travel documents.

“Continuing to work closely with our European partners is imperative to help keep Britain safe, by sharing intelligence, resources and expertise. The proposed appointment of Sir Julian as Security Union Commissioner shows that the UK and EU believe this must endure whatever the nature of our future relationship.”