a Franco-British agreement to limit the perilous crossings of the Channel, but no lasting solution

More money, equipment and police and customs cooperation: the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, and his British counterpart, Suella Braverman, welcomed, on Monday, November 14, the signing of a Franco-British agreement aimed at limiting the perilous crossings of the English Channel in inflatable boats. London has pledged to pay Paris 72.2 million euros for the period 2022-2023. What to buy new drones and finance the deployment of “40%” of additional police and gendarmes on French beaches, the Home Office said. However, no one imagines that this agreement – ​​which extends the Sandhurst agreement signed in 2018 between Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron and is in line with the 2003 Treaty of Le Touquet – will not resolve the crisis of small boats. More than 41,000 migrants have landed in south-east England since the start of the year, twice as many as in 2021 at the same time.

This agreement comes a year after the sinking of a boat in the English Channel, during which at least twenty-seven people drowned. Elements of the ongoing judicial investigation, revealed on Sunday by The world, on this tragedy (the most important to have occurred since the beginning of the crossings in small boats), show major dysfunctions in the organization of rescue at sea, against a backdrop of a lack of rescue resources. This aspect is completely absent from the Franco-British agreement, which focuses on the fight against organized crime and the strengthening of technical means to “make the makeshift boat route unviable”underline the two countries in their joint statement.

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“Nearly twenty years after the Treaty of Le Touquet, we still have a co-management solution for the exclusively police border”, regrets Olivier Cahn, member of the Center for Sociological Research on Law and Penal Institutions (Cesdip) and author of a thesis on Franco-British police cooperation in the cross-Channel border area. While the joint statement welcomes the “deployment, for the first time, of on-board observer teams in our two countries”in fact, points out Mr. Cahn, “From the beginning of the 2000s, British police or immigration agents came to France. We are going to see them for the first time on the beaches, the French will be able to say that the English are fully associated and therefore they can no longer be accused of not doing the job. »

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