France calls on Britain to do more on Channel migrant trafficking

·2-min read

Following a meeting of European ministers in charge of migration in Calais, France has urged Britain to help more with cracking down on people-smuggling gangs after a row between the two countries last week over a boat accident in the Channel that cost the lives of 27 migrants.

Speaking after Sunday's meeting in northern France, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said "We have to work with our British friends and tell them a few things."

"Firstly, help us fight people-smuggling better. We need intelligence. Responses to requests from the French police are not always given," he added.

Darmanin also reiterated criticism of the "attractiveness of England" including its labour market "which means you can work without having an identity document".

The minister, who is considered a hardliner on immigration in France, also stressed that "there are no more legal routes to ask for asylum in England."

Ministers from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands were invited to talks by France in the port of Calais to discuss ways of preventing migrants crossing the Channel by boat.

Britain was not invited following a row between French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, sparked by the unprecedented mass drowning last Wednesday in the busy shipping lane between the two countries.

The four countries represented in Calais issued a joint statement promising to "strengthen our operational cooperation" on tackling people-smugglers and "improving our joint cooperation with Great Britain".

New policy required

France also announced that Frontex - the European Union border agency - will deploy a plane to help fight migrant trafficking in the Channel from 1 December.

The aircraft will reportedly fly "day and night" over the area from northern France to the Netherlands.

Johnson has proposed sending back all migrants and asylum seekers who land in England to France, a move which has been rejected by Paris.

Following Britain's departure from the European Union, the UK does not have a returns treaty with France or the wider EU.

German junior interior minister Stephan Mayer said at the end of the Calais meeting that it was "urgent" to agree a new policy to replace the so-called Dublin Regulation that sets the returns policy between EU states

"Great Britain has an important role to play. We need a post-Dublin deal between the European Union and Great Britain," Mayer said.

Meanwhile, the European Commission's vice president bluntly told Britain that it needed to sort out its own problems after its decision to leave the EU following the 2016 referendum.

Speaking to reporters Margaritis Schinas said Sunday: "I recall well the main slogan of the referendum campaign is 'we take back control'"

"Since the UK took back control it's up to them now to find the necessary measures to operationalise the control they took back."

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