Essential pre-conditions for cooperation and dispute settlement
The law enforcement and judicial cooperation part of the agreement is underpinned by a number of safeguards:
- A mutual commitment to respect for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, including as set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and giving effect to the rights in the ECHR in domestic law. The cooperation may be suspended, in whole or in part, in case of serious and systemic deficiencies in these areas. In case of denunciation of the European Convention on Human Rights, it also provides for the right to terminate the agreement on the date the denunciation becomes effective.
- A mutual commitment to uphold high data protection standards, to be ascertained by adequacy decisions taken unilaterally by each side. Pending the adoption of these adequacy decisions, a bridging solution has been found allowing for the exchange of data for a 6-month period, on condition that the UK maintains its current data protection legislation in force during this period. On the EU side, adequacy decisions are anticipated under the Law Enforcement Directive (LED) the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). If an adequacy decision ceases to apply, the other Party may suspend some or all of the law enforcement cooperation.
- A dedicated dispute settlement mechanism to prevent and settle disputes between the Parties in a swift, effective and efficient manner, including the possibility to suspend or terminate cooperation, in whole or in part, in the event of either side being in serious breach of its obligations under the agreement.
Exchange of Prüm data (fingerprints, DNA and vehicle registration data)
The agreement provides for the ability to automatically compare DNA-profiles, fingerprints and vehicle registration data (so-called Prüm data), and to exchange personal data related to matches between the EU and UK.
The UK has committed to exchange all of the data, which it makes available to its domestic law enforcement authorities on equal terms to the EU’s law enforcement authorities, including the data of suspects. The agreement is unprecedented in providing access for the first time to the Union’s Prüm data exchange system for a third country not in the Schengen area.
Exchange of Passenger Name Records (PNR)
The agreement enables airlines to transfer Passenger Name Record data to the UK authorities in full compliance with the conditions for such transfers set by the EU’s Court of Justice in terms of data protection safeguards. The agreement also enables the exchange of such data, and related analytical information, between the UK and EU competent authorities.
This is the first PNR agreement the EU has concluded since the CJEU’s 2017 Opinion on the draft EU-Canada agreement. It includes a number of data protection safeguards going beyond those contained in the EU’s domestic law, the PNR Directive, including in particular the requirement to delete the data of passengers who subsequently leave the third country concerned (in this case the UK).
Exchange of operational information
The agreement provides a legal basis for EU Member States’ law enforcement authorities to exchange operationally useful information with the UK, including information on wanted and missing persons and objects, in the context of fighting crime, ensuring public safety, executing penalties, and the prevention of and fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
Freezing and confiscation of criminal assets
The agreement provides for streamlined procedures enabling the EU and UK authorities to assist each other in the freezing and confiscation of criminal proceeds.
The agreement enables the UK and EU to cooperate closely through and with Europol, including via the exchange of information and the involvement of the UK in some of the agency’s operational and research projects. Working and/or administrative arrangements implementing the agreement will need to be in place between Europol and the UK, as soon as possible.
The agreement provides for cooperation on combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism, through the continued commitment to Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards, and arrangements going beyond these with regard to access by competent authorities to information on beneficial ownership.
The agreement also provides for additional capabilities in the area of law enforcement and criminal justice cooperation (under the responsibility of DG JUST), including:
- cooperation through and with Eurojust,
- facilitated procedures to enable the surrender (extradition) of individuals from EU Member States to the UK and vice versa - streamlined procedures, strict deadlines, robust safeguards (including appropriate grounds for refusal of surrender), procedural rights and judicial control are provided for,
- facilitated procedures for mutual legal assistance in criminal proceedings, including by streamlining procedures, fixing time limits, and using standard forms and technological infrastructures and
- the exchange of criminal records.