The European Union’s border agency will provide a plane within days to monitor France’s northern coast in an attempt to prevent people from crossing the Channel, as the French government has insisted that he would not be “held hostage” by British domestic policy on the issue.
Speaking after an emergency meeting of EU ministers in Calais that excluded the UK, French Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin said France was ready for a serious discussion with the Great -Brittany on illegal immigration, but would not be held hostage by London’s domestic politics.
Darmanin said the EU’s border and coast guard agency Frontex will provide a plane from December 1 to monitor France’s northern coast. Ministers also discussed the use of drones and Frontex border guards, as part of broader efforts to crack down on human smuggling gangs in northwest Europe.
France has invited representatives from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the European Commission to the meeting, which was called last week after 27 people died in hopes of seeking asylum in the United Kingdom during the perilous crossing, the biggest loss of life in the Channel since such records. started in 2014.
Speaking after the meeting, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said criminal groups were operating on “an industrial scale” to smuggle people into the UK. She called for more police cooperation and efforts to return those refused asylum to their countries of origin. “We have to work with the UK to solve this problem of course,” she added, citing the need for information exchange, intelligence sharing and a common criminal gang approach with authorities. British.
In a joint statement focusing on security rather than humanitarian issues, ministers agreed to strengthen police cooperation, step up information exchange and make use of EU agencies, adding that they have called “the UK to follow a similar approach”.
The French government said five suspected smugglers arrested near the Belgian border last week had purchased unspecified materials in Germany. People looking to reach the UK often come to France via Belgium to find the shortest crossing point.
Sunday’s meeting focused on smuggling rings, which charge € 3,000-7,000 for the cross-Channel journey. Darmanin said a car with German license plates was seized as part of the investigation.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel was due to attend the meeting but was uninvited after Boris Johnson published his proposals to tackle the issue in a letter to Emmanuel Macron which was posted on Twitter before the French President was released. received it.
Macron said Johnson’s methods were “not serious”. The French government opposed the Prime Minister’s ideas, including a proposal to return all those crossing the Channel to France, but also the fact that the letter was made public.
The Prime Minister’s call for an agreement to return asylum seekers to the EU – a right the UK lost after Brexit – “has not been discussed in concrete terms,” a source said .
Relations between France and Britain have reached a low point, with latent disputes over post-Brexit fishing licenses and broader relations between the EU and the UK.
The diplomatic row came as more details emerge about the people who lost their lives in the Channel last week. They included a 45-year-old woman from the Iraqi Kurdish town of Darbandikhan and her three children, a 22-year-old daughter and two sons aged 16 and seven.
Most of the 27 people who drowned in Wednesday’s tragedy are believed to be Iraqi Kurds. Families in the area hope the bodies of their loved ones will be repatriated, but authorities said they did not yet have confirmation of the deaths from French authorities.
France claims to have saved the lives of 7,800 people since the start of the year and arrested 1,500 smugglers. The French government insists that there must be a European solution.
Before the meeting, Patel spoke with his Dutch counterpart Ankie Broekers-Knol. According to a statement from the Home Office, they discussed “ideas for enhanced bilateral and European cooperation, including the need to tackle the criminal gangs orchestrating these deadly journeys through shared intelligence and initiatives. law enforcement spouses ”.
The two agreed that the return agreements were “essential in breaking the criminal business model,” the Home Office said.
Return agreements with third countries are a means of expelling people deprived of the right of asylum to their country of origin. Yet research suggests that almost two-thirds of people who come to the UK in small boats are refugees. The Refugee Council found that 91% of people who crossed the Channel by boat over an eighteen-month period in 2020-2021 came from 10 countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia where human rights violations humans and persecution were common.
The directors of the EU border agency, Frontex, and the EU police agency, Europol also took part in the meeting.
EU member states can use these agencies and the emergency funds commission, personnel and equipment, such as drones, to patrol the border.
Since Brexit, the UK no longer has the option of returning asylum seekers to the EU. Under the EU’s Dublin system, member states can transfer asylum seekers to the EU country in which they arrived, or to another where the person has family ties.