If Britain leaves the European Union without negotiating a deal with Brussels, terrorism-related risks could increase, warns Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter.
If there is a so-called “no-deal” Brexit, there is a danger that “a jihadist from Britain could enter Switzerland without us knowing about it”, the minister declared in an interview in Sunday’s German-language newspaper NZZ am Sonntag.
She said the European Commission wanted all data which Britain sends to a key EU crime database, the so-called Schengen Information System (SIS), to be wiped if it leaves the 28-state bloc on March 29.
The SIS is a trove of police intelligence data shared by 31 European countries, including non-EU member Switzerland. It collates information on anything from dubious documents to stolen cars to wanted persons or missing objects.
Such a decision by Brussels would have major consequences for the security of the population, not only in Britain, but also in the rest of the EU and in Switzerland, said Keller-Sutter.
“The British provide valuable information, in particular in the fight against terrorism,” said the Swiss minister. Last year, the British authorities opened 439 cases in the SIS system, most of which concerned terror suspects, she noted.
The minister said Switzerland was not along among European nations in raising this concern to Brussels.
“But the European Commission acts strictly out of respect for its principles and not for security interests,” she said, adding that the Alpine nation would seek a bilateral solution with London.
Just 19 days before Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, Prime Minister Theresa May is scrambling to secure last-minute changes to an EU exit agreement before a vote on Tuesday on whether to approve the deal.
If she fails, lawmakers are expected to force May to seek a delay to Brexit that some fear could see the 2016 decision to leave the bloc reversed. Others argue that without a delay Britain faces chaos if it leaves without a deal on March 29.