Dr. Paul Smith, French and Francophone Studies at the University of Nottingham spoke to Sputnik about the future of Franco-British relations, including on the issues of migration and a bilateral treaty known as the Le Touquet accord in 2003.
Sputnik: What do you make of the reports that the French government want Britain to pay more and take in more asylum seekers.
Paul Smith: It’s entirely what I would expect at this point in time in terms of the context of French politics. Macron and his interior minister Mr. Gerard Collomb have been talking a tough game with regards to dealing with asylum seekers generally and particularly within the Le Touquet agreement. Since particularly on Macron’s right and the far right, it looks like immigration and security and safety are the themes that the right, particularly the Republican right under its new leader Laurent Wauquiez, tries to rebuild itself since it’s not doing a very good job tackling Macron over the economy.
Sputnik: Do you think the Le Touquet Accord could be renegotiated? If it’s not, could that see tougher border controls on both sides?
Paul Smith: I certainly think there’s a sense in French politicians that things have moved on considerably since the agreement was struck back in 2003 and I don’t think anybody would disagree with that. I know from this side of the channel a lot of money has been spent and is being pushed in the direction of tightening things up in particularly at Calais, which is seen as the 'vulnerable' point. I think on both sides there is a desire for an agreement, that supplementary aspect of the accord needs to be in place and neither really wants to leave the table without absolutely no agreement whatsoever. A no deal is no good for either side, but I do think the French will be looking for the British to take a bit more responsibility for people who are asylum seekers not in France but looking for asylum in the United Kingdom. One can understand the French perspective, particularly when the French themselves are dealing with…100,000 asylum seekers..so that needs to be born in mind as well.
Sputnik: What else do you think will be discussed when Macron meets with Theresa May this week?
Paul Smith: Well I think they will talk a little bit about bilateral trading relations, France is a really important trading partner and it may well be that Macron wants to try and impress on Theresa May his vision of the future of the relationship of the EU and Britain and vice-versa. This next year 2018 from within the EU is going to be a really important year particularly with EU elections coming up in 2019. There’s a very real sense that the EU needs to move forward to whatever stage of its next development is. So Theresa May well be in a much stronger position than she thinks in terms of making offers to Macron, but Macron will also want to outline a way ahead, it’s not his place to be negotiating on behalf of the EU of course, that’s Michel Barnier’s job and the commission's job. Nevertheless, he is an important player now, more important than Angela Merkel and so the new European order as it was led by Macron might be an opportunity for May to open up some new line of dialogue that takes place in parallel with but wouldn’t supplant the direct negotiations.
The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
The fact of registration and authorization of users on Sputnik websites via users’ account or accounts on social networks indicates acceptance of these rules.
Users are obliged abide by national and international laws. Users are obliged to speak respectfully to the other participants in the discussion, readers and individuals referenced in the posts.
The websites’ administration has the right to delete comments made in languages other than the language of the majority of the websites’ content.
In all language versions of the sputniknews.com websites any comments posted can be edited.
A user comment will be deleted if it:
does not correspond with the subject of the post;
promotes hatred and discrimination on racial, ethnic, sexual, religious or social basis or violates the rights of minorities;
violates the rights of minors, causing them harm in any form, including moral damage;
contains ideas of extremist nature or calls for other illegal activities;
contains insults, threats to other users, individuals or specific organizations, denigrates dignity or undermines business reputations;
contains insults or messages expressing disrespect to Sputnik;
violates privacy, distributes personal data of third parties without their consent or violates privacy of correspondence;
describes or references scenes of violence, cruelty to animals;
contains information about methods of suicide, incites to commit suicide;
pursues commercial objectives, contains improper advertising, unlawful political advertisement or links to other online resources containing such information;
promotes products or services of third parties without proper authorization;
contains offensive language or profanity and its derivatives, as well as hints of the use of lexical items falling within this definition;
contains spam, advertises spamming, mass mailing services and promotes get-rich-quick schemes;
promotes the use of narcotic / psychotropic substances, provides information on their production and use;
contains links to viruses and malicious software;
is part of an organized action involving large volumes of comments with identical or similar content ("flash mob");
“floods” the discussion thread with a large number of incoherent or irrelevant messages;
violates etiquette, exhibiting any form of aggressive, humiliating or abusive behavior ("trolling");
doesn’t follow standard rules of the English language, for example, is typed fully or mostly in capital letters or isn’t broken down into sentences.
The administration has the right to block a user’s access to the page or delete a user’s account without notice if the user is in violation of these rules or if behavior indicating said violation is detected.