Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has called on the UK Government to retain the European Arrest Warrant, an important weapon in the fight against terror and criminality. The Government has until December to decide whether to opt out of a range of EU policing and justice measures, but the Prime Minister has suggested bringing a vote to Parliament on the EAW before the Rochester and Strood by-election on 20 November.
Mr Nicholson said:
"Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom to share a land border with another EU Member State, so we have a unique perspective as to the importance of the European Arrest Warrant.
"Over the past number of decades, we have seen how porous and dangerous the border can be. Effective policing of the border involves some of the closest police cooperation in the EU, and the PSNI and An Garda Síochána have collaborated effectively in recent times to prevent dissident republican terrorists from committing atrocities.
"Between 2004 and the beginning of 2013, 192 suspected terrorists and other criminals were surrendered to the PSNI by authorities in the Republic.
"Without the European Arrest Warrant, such close co-operation would become much more difficult. If we opted out, there would be little legal basis for extradition between the UK and the Irish Republic.
"I have been clear in the past on my view that elements of our relationship with the European Union must be reviewed and renegotiated, but abandoning the European Arrest Warrant would pose serious risks for the security of our country.
"In the fight against terror and cross-border criminality, we need to use every weapon at our disposal. Opting out of the European Arrest Warrant would make this fight much more difficult.”