Migrant crisis explodes as France pushes for an EU-wide UK treaty on the Channel crossing | World | News

Macron’s rivals could ‘exploit’ migrant crisis, says Dr Ehsan

The French government will use its six-month presidency of the EU Council of Ministers to negotiate an asylum and migration agreement between the bloc and the United Kingdom with the aim of creating a legal and reciprocal means of immigration between the two parties.

The idea, confirmed by a senior French government official, is that people “can legally come to Britain to seek asylum”.

Adding “obviously that means reciprocity”, they suggested that UK authorities could return those refused asylum to the EU country in which they had originally arrived.

The source told The Guardian: “We would be prepared to consider this.”

Such an arrangement existed before the UK left the EU. However, during Brexit talks, the government was denied an asylum pact that would have allowed the UK to return those denied asylum to the EU.

Now, however, with France apparently determined to control migration, the EU could cede to the UK what it had initially asked for.

The source stressed: “The idea is to have zero balance at the end of the day.”

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French government to pursue EU-wide migration treaty with UK (Image: Getty)

Stating that not only France but also Belgium and the Netherlands were “grappling with a major problem” as thousands entered their country on their way to the UK, the source argued that the treaty was “a very important European question, not just a French question”.

But it is not yet clear whether the rest of the EU and the UK are ready to negotiate such a deal.

Brexit talks have deteriorated EU-UK relations, and Ylva Johansson, EU Home Affairs Commissioner, made this clear last month.

Speaking to the press, she said: “We have some concerns about the implementation of the ATT [Trade and Cooperation Agreement] and the Northern Ireland Protocol at the moment, so I guess member states’ appetite to start negotiations for a new deal [on migration]… is limited.”

People arriving in the UK via the English Channel

Those wishing to reach the UK via the EU pose ‘a major problem’ for several countries in the bloc (Image: PA)

In 2020, France received 93,470 asylum applications – second in the EU just behind Germany – and the UK received 29,456.

At the same time, according to the Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII), the number of migrants rescued off Calais and hosted by France tripled in 2021.

The OFII told AFP: “The number of castaways off Calais and brought to safety was 1,002 in 2021”.

This compares to 341 the year before, an increase of 194%.

Home Office figures show at least 28,395 people made the perilous journey across the Channel last year – a substantial increase from 2020, when around 8,500 people arrived on the coast. English.

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Record year, more than 28,300 people crossed the Channel to the UK

In November, the English Channel experienced its deadliest sinking to date as at least 27 people – 17 men, seven women and three children – drowned as they attempted to travel from France to the UK .

The two countries blamed human traffickers and smugglers for the tragedy, but the two have not found a common solution to stop the illegal and incredibly dangerous crossings.

The British government says the bloc’s borderless travel zone is a key issue.

Minister of the Interior Priti Patel

Home Secretary Priti Patel blames lack of EU border protection for migrant crisis (Image: Getty)

Interior Minister Priti Patel said last year: “Let us not forget that the real problem with illegal migratory flows is that the EU has no border protection – Schengen opens the borders.

“I think it’s fair to say that they [France] are overwhelmed. It is a fact.

“When you think of the waves, what do they do? They absolutely patrol the beaches [but] I would maintain that the numbers are so important that they have enough resources?

“We are constantly pressing France on this.”

France, for its part, says the UK has lax labor market laws that attract illegal migrants.

Clément Beaune, French Minister for Europe, described the migration issue as “first and foremost an English issue”.

He declared in November: “There is – let’s say it – an economic model, sometimes, quasi-modern of slavery or at least of illegal work which is very strong.

He added that the exploitation of illegal workers “is more prevalent in the UK than [in France] because there are fewer controls “.

EU-wide UK migration treaty talks are believed to be part of a larger French agenda to tighter management of the free movement of people.

The news comes just months before France’s elections this spring, where President Emmanuel Macron is believed to be running for another term.

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