March 1, 2020

The Guardian: Boris Johnson ‘is turning security into Brexit trade talks bargaining chip’

March 1st, 2020

The Guardian

Mark Townsend, journalist with The Guardian, interviewed Yan St-Pierre on European security, especially regarding its electronic security capability and reliance on the UK and the US sharing their electronic information.

Yan St-Pierre, a counter-terrorism expert, said the UK was “playing politics with Europe’s security”. With the US, it was “light years ahead” of the EU in electronic security capability – the online monitoring of terrorist activity, electronic surveillance, drone and satellite technology, he said.

St-Pierre, head of the Berlin firm Modern Security Consulting, which advises EU governments, said: “The UK knows, especially when it comes to its electronic security capability, that it has a major bargaining chip.”

The UK’s approach was effectively holding Europe hostage over its needs to protect itself. “The Germans, the French, a lot of other European countries, don’t have the capabilities that the UK has. It’s a very real bargaining chip compounded by the fact that US foreign policy is unreliable in the era of Trump,” said St-Pierre. “The EU countries are extremely dependent both on the UK and the US for electronic security and the sharing of electronic information.”

The security of Europe, added St-Pierre, operated on a two-tier basis. The first was a formal, structured arrangement bound by official agreements and the second, a more informal arrangement built on human relationships and trusted sources.

“The very formal one can be used as a bargaining chip. However, at the informal level, the sharing of information will still take place because of the relationships that civil servants still have with their European colleagues. In acute or very urgent situations the moral aspects will [supersede] political ones but nonetheless it is an issue.”

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