Theresa May delivers Munich speech on security

Posted in UK and EU legal framework

Theresa May has delivered a significant speech in Munich concerning the UK’s aspirations for Brexit.

In contrast to her earlier Florence and Lancaster House speeches, which covered the UK’s future relationship with the EU in broad and general terms, the Munich speech was focussed solely on questions of security. 

The Prime Minister suggested that the UK would pursue its own foreign and security policy post-Brexit, but also emphasised the importance of cooperation and the desire for a new security partnership between the UK and the EU. Moreover, the Prime Minister stressed that this could be done quickly, stating that “There is no reason why we should not agree distinct agreements for our foreign and defence policy cooperation in the time-limited implementation period”.

Throughout the speech, the Prime Minister sought to highlight the benefits of cooperation, for example, praising the efficiencies arising from the European Arrest Warrant in both time and cost. She also noted that the Data Protection Bill will ensure that the UK is aligned with the EU on those issues.

On questions of detail, however, the position remains unclear. Specifically, what role, if any, would the UK have in relation to Europol, police databases or the European Arrest Warrant regime? In particular, the future role of the CJEU remains, as in other aspects of the Brexit negotiations, an area of contention. While the Prime Minister promised that the UK would “respect the role of the European Court of Justice” when it participated in EU agencies, she also cautioned that a “principled but pragmatic solution to close legal cooperation will be needed to respect our unique status as a third country with our own sovereign legal order”. 

Whether the EU would be amenable to such proposal (and indeed whether it could be achieved in practice) will likely become clear as negotiations progress.

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