France, UK Agree to Squash Spat Over Migrant Crossings, Promise to Stop ‘100% of Channel Crossings’

© AP Photo / Matt DunhamIn this Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016 file photo migrants gather near a fence in Calais, northern France.
In this Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016 file photo migrants gather near a fence in Calais, northern France.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.11.2021
The UK has been facing the arrival of record numbers of migrants coming aboard small boats from France in recent weeks, with No 10 accusing Paris of failing to make good on obligations under a July pact on tackling the source of illegal immigration. French officials dismissed Britain’s claims, accusing London of using Paris as a “punching bag.”
UK home secretary Priti Patel and her French counterpart interior minister Gerald Darmanin issued a joint statement committing the two countries to resolve the spat over migrants using the English Channel to illegally travel to Britain from France.
“Both the home secretary and interior minister agreed to strengthen operational cooperation further. More must be done to stop the dangerous crossings. They agreed to accelerate the delivery of the commitments made in the joint agreement of July 2021 to deliver on their joint determination to prevent 100 percent of crossings and make this deadly route unviable,” the statement said.

“It was agreed that the joint technical working group will meet imminently with a view to permitting the use of new technology as rapidly as possible. The two ministers also committed to reinforcing intelligence sharing and police cooperation,” the press release added. It did not elaborate on what sort of ‘new technology’ involved.

Patel and Darmanin spoke by video link on Monday night, with the home secretary tweeting that she and her French counterpart had “discussed a range of additional steps to tackle the problem” of small boats crossing the Channel and “reiterated the importance of working together to make this deadly route unviable.”
Darmanin, meanwhile, promised to “continue” French-British “operational cooperation and strengthen our joint action against smuggling networks.”
The minister also announced Tuesday that French police had carried out an operation to dismantle a human trafficking network in Dunkirk, with 13 people smugglers arrested, bringing the total number of arrests up to 1,308 since the start of the year. Darmanin also stated that police had begun the evacuation of an illegal migrant encampment in Grande-Synthe, a commune situated in the country’s northern tip near Belgium and the narrowest point between France and Britain in the Channel.
Spat Over the Channel
The agreement to improve cooperation comes in the wake of a bevy of back-and-forth acrimony between London and Paris as the UK recorded a new daily record on the number of arrivals of migrants using the Channel last week. On Monday, No.10 accused France of failing to do its part to prevent the crossings, pointing to the 54 million pounds (equivalent to about $72.4 million US) that London has already paid Paris to get the French to beef up their maritime patrols. French officials shot back, accusing the UK of treating its neighbour like a “punching bag” and suggesting that the increase in crossings is London’s own fault.
“Why do people go to Calais? It’s to go to Great Britain. And why do they want to go to Great Britain? It’s because the labour market works in Great Britain thanks to a large army or reserves – as Karl Marx said – of people in an irregular situation but who can work at a low cost, obviously,” Darmanin said Monday.
UK Border Force officials travel in a RIB with migrants picked up at sea whilst Crossing the English Channel, as they arrive at the Marina in Dover, southeast England on August 15, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.11.2021
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“We’re not taking lessons from the British…They must stop using us as a punching bag for their domestic politics. We are neither [the migrants’] collaborators nor their assistants. I would remind my British counterpart that the NGOs that are preventing the police and gendarmes from working [in Calais] are largely British NGOs and British citizens who are in French territory engaged in agitprop,” the interior minister added.
France has long claimed that the long length of its coastline makes round-the-clock patrols impossible, and has also cited obscure international maritime law which purportedly preclude authorities from intervening once the migrant boats are in the water.
The back and forth spat comes in the wake of news last Thursday that some 1,185 people crossed the Channel by boat in a 24 hour period – a new record. Three people reportedly drowned during one of the perilous journeys, with the British side complaining that once boats are on their way, it is next to impossible to turn them back in a humane way.
Over 23,500 migrants are thought to have crossed into Britain using the Channel boat route in 2021, up from 8,400 in 2020.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and France's President Emmanuel Macron pose for a photo during their meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss Iran's nuclear program, on the sidelines of the G20 leaders' summit in Rome, Italy October 30, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.11.2021
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Paris and London signed an agreement on cooperation to tackle the migrant crossing issue back in July, but each accused the other of reneging on their responsibilities under the pact.
The boat people are believed to come largely from African and Middle Eastern countries, including Eritrea, Sudan, Yemen, Chad and Egypt.
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