France, UK working on new deal to combat illegal migration ahead of summit
France and Britain are working on a new deal to stop migrants crossing the English Channel, a French official said on Wednesday, which could come before a summit between leaders Emmanuel Macron and Rishi Sunak later this week. agreed on.
Macron will welcome British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to Paris on Friday for the first summit between the two countries in five years.
Preventing migrants from crossing the English Channel from France to Britain will be a major issue in the talks, and Sunak has made stopping migrant boats crossing the border one of his top domestic priorities.
“We are finalizing the terms to strengthen our business cooperation,” a Macron aide told reporters on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The agreement will focus on “increasing resources to manage this shared border and providing multi-year financing to improve planning for human resources, equipment and infrastructure,” the aide said.
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Britain agreed to pay France an additional 72.2 million euros ($74.5 million) under a deal in November to deploy an extra 350 people to detect and prevent migrant boat crossings.
Some 800 people, including regular police, border control forces and customs officials, are deployed daily in anti-immigration operations in northern France, according to the latest figures from French authorities.
The British government on Tuesday outlined a draft of new immigration laws aimed at stopping migrants boarding small boats to cross the English Channel, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
The law will prevent people who have arrived in the UK illegally from making asylum claims, sparking an outcry from rights groups.
“At this stage, we do not think that, assuming the law comes into force, it will not have any significant impact on the French coast,” the French official said after stressing the possibility of a legal appeal.
Rights groups and the United Nations said the legislation would mean the UK breached its commitments under European and U.N. conventions on asylum.
The meeting between Macron and Sunak in Paris is expected to reset relations between Western Europe’s largest military and diplomatic powers after years of tension.
Analysts believe the departure of the surly British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the war in Ukraine have brought estranged allies back together.
“We are coming out of five years without a summit,” said another French presidential aide.
“We’re updating things now, bringing things back to where they were and preparing for the future.”
After a working lunch and leaders’ talks, a joint statement is also expected on the training of the Ukrainian army and new cooperation on future weapons development and nuclear energy.