France says it’s up to UK to solve Channel boat migrant crisis – .

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France says it’s up to UK to solve Channel boat migrant crisis – .


France has told the UK it must take responsibility for resolving the crisis of thousands of migrants seeking to reach England from France in small boats by making it harder to find illegal work and offering ” legal migration route ”.

The proposals, made a week after the death of 27 migrants in the collapse of their small boat in the English Channel, appeared in a letter sent Wednesday evening to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson by French Prime Minister Jean Castex.

“Much of the solution does not lie in France but in the UK,” Castex wrote. “Indeed, only you can deter migrants who should not settle in the UK from going there by pursuing a more effective return policy.

“Only you can weaken the criminal networks of human trafficking by opening avenues for legal immigration to those who have legitimate reasons to come to your country. Only you can ensure that your labor market is sufficiently regulated to discourage those who attempt to work illegally.

However, Castex’s letter also marked a constructive note after weeks of cross-Channel tensions over the migration issue and referred to “the foundations of a possible new framework for cooperation between the EU and the UK”.

He said the two sides should consider “strengthening migration cooperation between the EU and the UK” and that “could include a virtuous transfer mechanism between the UK and the European Union”.

France and the UK, whose relations have already deteriorated in the aftermath of Brexit over disputes over trade, fisheries and the status of Northern Ireland, have argued over responsibility for the accident and the increasing number of people, many from the Middle East and Afghanistan, embarking on small boats in an attempt to reach England.

At least 26,611 people have made clandestine crossings in small boats to the UK this year through 25 November, more than three times the total for all of 2020. The method has become the primary means of illegal migration to the UK after heightened security and reduced traffic flows have made it much more difficult for potential migrants to hide in trucks or under trains.

Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, was particularly angry with the way Johnson sent him a letter last week on the proposed solutions and then made its contents public before he had time to read it. Asking a Macron subordinate, in the form of the French prime minister, to send his response will be considered a calculated snub.

Johnson put responsibility for the dangerous Channel crossings at the French door, calling for French and British maritime patrols to be stationed in each other’s territorial waters. He also demanded that migrants who reach English shores be returned to France.

French ministers rejected these ideas and suggested instead that the UK send protection officers to France who could examine the asylum claims of those seeking to reach Britain and thus deter them from taking small boats.

The UK opposed the idea of ​​examining asylum claims on French territory, arguing that such a center would only serve to encourage potential refugees to travel to France, possibly via roads such as the Mediterranean crossings which are almost as dangerous as the Channel crossings.

A senior French official said on Thursday: “The vast majority of these migrants want to go to the UK, and without part of the solution regarding legal migration, asylum and family reunification, we will not solve the problem. “

Additional reporting by Domitille Alain

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