Paris, Mar 10 (EFE).- France and the United Kingdom on Friday announced an agreement to strengthen bilateral cooperation in tackling irregular migration through the English Channel.
French president Emmanuel Macron and UK prime minister Rishi Sunak announced an “unprecedented” deal to boost cross-Channel efforts to stem the flow of migrants traveling to the UK illegally in small boats.
The UK will provide France with almost 500 million pounds Sterling ($602 million) over three years to deploy 500 additional police officers to patrol the French coastline, set up a detention center in northern France and increase use of drones and surveillance technology to prevent migrants attempting the perilous crossings.
Addressing a joint press conference after their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Sunak said the funds would help “put an end to this disgusting trade in human life”, adding that “working together, the UK and France will ensure that nobody can exploit our systems with impunity.”
Sunak has made tackling irregular immigration one of his Conservative government’s priorities. Last year more than 45,000 migrants arrived in the UK illegally in small boats.
While Macron agreed that reducing such crossings was a priority, and praised the work already done that had prevented 30,000 boats from crossing and led to 500 arrests over the past year, he insisted that the issue was not just a Franco-British one.
“We do believe that the right way to approach these migrations is a broader space,” the French president said. “The Western Balkans, the EU – and not just France – and the UK have to work closely together in order to dismantle these groups and be more efficient regarding this phenomenon.”
Both leaders said the meeting – the first between heads of government from the two neighbors in five years – signaled the start of a new chapter in bilateral ties, after years of frosty ties triggered by Brexit.
“This summit is exceptional. It is very clearly a moment of reunion, of reconnection, and of new departures. It marks a common desire to speak to one another, to better coordinate, and to build new outlooks together,” Macron said.
The war in Ukraine has served as a catalyst for a growing rapprochement between both powers, which also boast Europe’s largest armies.
“As we face new and unprecedented threats, it is vital that we fortify the structures of our alliance so we are ready to take on the challenges of the future,” Sunak said. EFE