June 19, 2018 / 4:35 PM / 3 months ago

Europol's new chief: work with UK must go on post-Brexit

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - The new head of Europe’s police agency urged Brexit negotiators on Tuesday to find a path “one way or another” to allow it to continue its work with Britain after it leaves the bloc.

Catherine De Bolle, who replaced British diplomat Rob Wainwright as the head of Europol in May, stressed the importance of information-sharing with the UK, one of the world’s leading crime-fighting and intelligence powers.

“We will need cooperation in one way or another with the United Kingdom. If we don’t have this cooperation, it will become difficult,” de Bolle - a former head of Belgium’s police force - told reporters at Europol’s headquarters.

It remains unclear if the 60 British experts currently working at Europol will be able to stay after the country quits the EU next March, she said.

While the EU is as keen as Britain to retain close security ties, it has balked at London’s desire to maintain access to Europol’s databases, which would go beyond the relationship the bloc has with other third countries.

Denmark, which has opted out of Europol, reached a deal with the bloc allowing it to request data from Europol as long as it remains a member of the border-free Schengen area.

The police agency also has close ties with Switzerland and Norway, also outside the bloc but part of Schengen.

“A strong relationship on the level of security is needed (with Britain) for the internal safety of the union, the internal safety of the United Kingdom and to protect our citizens,” de Bolle said.

Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel @AdeCar; editing by John Stonestreet

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