UK PM Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron Agree On New Deal On Illegal Migration


Mar 11, 2023, 04:04 PM | Updated 04:04 PM IST

UK PM Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron (Pic Via Twitter)
UK PM Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron (Pic Via Twitter)

London, Mar 10 (PTI) British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday agreed on a new deal to jointly crack down on migrants making illegal journeys across the English Channel in unsafe small boats.

During a visit to Paris for an Anglo-French Summit, Sunak declared that the fresh set of measures will include a new detention centre located on the French border backed by 480 million pounds in UK funding over three years and additional drones and surveillance technology for French border officials.

The deal will also see hundreds more French personnel patrolling the beaches to intercept people smuggling criminal gangs facilitating dangerous crossings between the port of Calais on the French coast and Dover in the UK.

“We don’t need to manage this problem, we need to break it,” said Sunak.

“And today, we have gone further than ever before to put an end to this disgusting trade in human life. Working together, the UK and France will ensure that nobody can exploit our systems with impunity,” he said.

It marked the most cordial interaction between the UK and France following strained post-Brexit relations under Sunak’s predecessors, Liz Truss and Boris Johnson.

'It is time for a new start,' said Macron, in a clear reference to that strain.

In contrast, both leaders were on visibly friendly terms as Macron greeted Sunak at his Elysee Palace presidential base in Paris.

“I have made it one of my five priorities to stop the boats. We are delivering on that priority to stop people coming to the UK illegally,” said Sunak, with reference to the government’s new Illegal Migration Bill.

“Last year, I agreed the largest ever small boats deal with France to increase UK-funded patrols by 40 per cent. This week I announced measures to ensure nobody who enters the UK illegally can remain here,” he said.

Under the plans agreed between the UK and France on Friday, a new 24/7 zonal coordination centre will be stationed with permanent UK liaison officers.

Downing Street said the coordination centre will bring all relevant French law enforcement partners together for the first time to coordinate the response to an “alarming trend” which has seen a 50 per cent rise in illegal migration across Europe in the last year.

This enhanced cooperation aims to increase the interception rate for attempted crossings and drastically reduce the number of crossings each year, which have shot up to over 40,000 annually from just a few hundred.

There will also be further coordination between the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and its French counterpart via officers based in countries along the routes favoured by people traffickers.

The Opposition Labour Party responded to the latest announcement on illegal migration by criticising the government for 'making the same old mistakes, all while doing nothing to tackle the root causes of this crisis”.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without any modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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