France Reportedly Seeking Whole-of-EU Treaty With Britain on Migrant Channel Crossings

© AP Photo / Michel SpinglerMigrants, background, watch French gendarmes patrolling on the road leading to the port in Calais, northern France, Friday Feb.2, 2018. Police reinforcements are arriving in the French port city of Calais after clashes among migrants left 22 people injured, as the interior minister warned of a worrying spike in violence
Migrants, background, watch French gendarmes patrolling on the road leading to the port in Calais, northern France, Friday Feb.2, 2018. Police reinforcements are arriving in the French port city of Calais after clashes among migrants left 22 people injured, as the interior minister warned of a worrying spike in violence - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.01.2022
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Illegal crossings from France to the UK by migrants aboard small boats more than tripled in the past year, with over 28,000 people making their way to the island nation in 2021. London has accused France of failing to tackle the problem with sufficient zeal, while Paris says Britain’s strong labour market and aversion to deportations are to blame.
Paris is seeking whole-of-bloc negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom on an asylum and migration treaty that would stem the flow of migrants along the Channel crossing route, a senior French government official told The Guardian.
According to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the EU-UK treaty would have to be ‘reciprocal’, allowing Britain to send persons denied asylum back to their EU country of origin. “We would be prepared to consider this. The idea is to have a zero balance at the end of the day,” the official said.
Ultimately, the official noted, the goal is to create “a legal means of immigration with Great Britain, so people can legally go to Great Britain to seek asylum.”
Britain was stripped of its EU-era right to return asylum seekers back to the European mainland when it quit the bloc, and has subsequently rejected efforts to legally bind it to a treaty under which individuals could apply for asylum abroad, fearing it would be swamped in applications.
Last week, Home Office staff told The Times newspaper that a resolution to the Channel migrant crisis was unlikely to be reached before the presidential elections in France in April, with No 10 “all but giv[ing] up” hope of reaching an agreement with Paris on the matter before then.
An inflatable figure of Prime Minister Boris Johnson is seen outside Mill House Leisure Centre as ballots are being counted, in Hartlepool, Britain May 7, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.01.2022
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France and the UK have suffered a major falling out over the Channel migrant crisis, with London accusing Paris of failing to properly monitor its shores and doing little to stop people from setting sail for the UK. The French side has blamed Britain for failing to tackle UK-based human smugglers making a profit from the crossings, and claimed that the island nation’s “attractive” labour market and lack of deportations encourage illegal immigration. Paris has also pointed to the difficulty of policing the migrant flow, particularly as many would-be crossers reportedly only stop over in France for a few days or even a few hours before continuing on to Britain.
Last month, the French government formally rejected a proposal by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to conduct joint patrols to battle the influx.
French police officers patrol on the beach in the searcher migrants in Wimereux, northern France, Wednesday, Nov.17, 2021. Several migrants died and others were injured Wednesday Nov.24, 2021 when their boat capsized off Calais in the English Channel as they tried to cross from France to Britain, authorities said. British and French authorities were searching the area using helicopters and coast guard vessels, according to the French maritime agency for the region. - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.12.2021
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Johnson’s letter, sent out by Twitter in late November, shortly after a media report revealed that 27 migrants died off the coast of Calais when their inflatable dinghy sank, sparked anger from Paris, which was not able to examine it ahead of time. President Macron privately branded Johnson a “clown” with “the attitude of a vulgarian.”
Publicly, Macron called on his British colleague to get “serious.”
“You do not communicate via tweets and open letters. We are not whistleblowers. The [EU] ministers will work with serious issues with serious people…We will then see how to move forward efficiently with the British, if they decide to get serious,” the French president said.
At least 28,395 people crossed the English Channel into the UK in 2021, according to government figures. Crossings more than tripled over a year from 8,461 in 2020 and just 1,835 in 2019, Britain’s final year of membership in the EU.
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