On 24 December 2020, the EU and UK negotiating teams reached an agreement on the text of a comprehensive Partnership Agreement on the future relationship between the EU and the UK.
The agreement is unprecedented in its scope and depth covering, among others, the following areas:
DG HOME had been closely involved in the negotiation of the law enforcement chapter.
The agreement is the culmination of more than nine months of intensive negotiations. Now, it will be submitted to the Member States for approval, and then to the European Parliament and the UK Parliament for ratification. Given the late finalisation of the negotiations, the agreement will apply provisionally from 1 January. The ratification process needs to be completed by 28 February 2021.
The part of the agreement on law enforcement and judicial cooperation puts in place a more far-reaching cooperative relationship in the security field than the EU enjoys with any other third country outside of the Schengen area.
The agreement provides for cooperation in multiple areas of activity falling within the remit of DG HOME, including:
It also provides for law enforcement cooperation in other areas of activity (falling within the remit of DG JUST and FISMA), such as:
The continuance of law enforcement and judicial cooperation is conditional upon both Parties’ commitment to humans rights (including, adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights and its domestic implementation), as well as by a commitment to a high standard of protection of personal data, as attested to by adequacy decisions to be adopted by the EU and UK respectively.
The agreement is flanked by a dispute settlement mechanism and by suspension and termination provisions, which can be resorted to in the event of serious violations of the Parties’ obligations under the agreement or of any serious erosion of the fundamental rights safeguards underpinning it.
The agreement contains no dedicated provisions on the mobility of our respective citizens, beyond a commitment to facilitate the short-term mobility of business travellers and service providers (Mode 4 in WTO parlance).
The legislation of the EU and its Member States relevant to third country nationals on the one hand, and that of the UK on the other, will regulate the mobility of persons as of 1 January 2021. UK nationals will be treated as third country nationals as of that date (without prejudice to the rights of beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement). Both the EU and UK have legislated to grant visa-free access to each other’s citizens for short stays (link to EU legislation).
However, a clause recognising the UK’s obligation to provide visa-free travel for short-term visits to citizens of all EU Member States has been included in the agreement. This is an important guarantee for our Member States and their citizens.