The United Kingdom will pay 543 million euros over three years to France to fight against illegal immigration

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, and the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, on the occasion of a press conference at the Elysee Palace, Friday March 10, 2023.

The United Kingdom will more than double its funding over the next three years to fight against illegal immigration from France, the British government announced on Friday March 10, following a summit between the two countries organized in Paris. “Over the next three years, the UK’s contribution to this package will be €141m in 2023-24, €191m in 2024-25 and €209m in 2025-26”, according to a statement, or 541 million euros. The English version of the text advances an amount of 480 million pounds, or 543 million euros.

“We want to move forward together” in the fight against irregular immigration, declared Emmanuel Macron the French head of state during a joint press conference. “We are each aware of the human issues associated with it and of the extreme sensitivity of these subjects”, he added. “In 2022, more than 1,300 makeshift boat crossings were prevented. Together, we have dismantled 55 organized crime rings and made over 500 arrests,” Mr. Macron added.

“We have agreed on the need to increase our intervention and surveillance capacities”, continued the president. And Rishi Sunak to clarify: “We are setting up a new joint detention center in northern France, a new command center with additional police teams (…), 500 additional officers who will patrol French beaches, and more drones and surveillance technology. »

“It is crucial to strengthen the foundations of our alliance”

Fifteen days before a state visit by King Charles III to France, President Emmanuel Macron received Rishi Sunak at the Elysee Palace. Anxious to renew the Franco-British alliance, undermined by years of estrangement, this meeting between the two leaders will focus on strengthening the fight against illegal immigration, a sensitive subject across the Channel, and cooperation on defense and military aid to Ukraine.

“Our long history, our proximity and our shared vision of global challenges mean that a close partnership between the UK and France is not only important, it is essential”Rishi Sunak said in a statement shortly before his arrival at the Elysée. “As we face new and unprecedented threats, it is crucial to strengthen the foundations of our alliance to be ready to face the challenges of the future”he added.

What facilitate a turn. Relations have indeed rarely been good between Emmanuel Macron and ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and they had further deteriorated with his short-lived successor Liz Truss who had, for a time, refused to say whether the French president was A “friend or [un] enemy “ from the United Kingdom.

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From Brexit to the pandemic and a heated argument over alliances in the Asia-Pacific region, multiple crises had interrupted the tradition of annual summits, the last dating back to 2018. ” priority “ is therefore a “reconnection”For “return to common work habits” between the two leaders, who will each be accompanied by seven ministers, it is pointed out at the Elysée.

Defense Cooperation

On the British side, the emphasis is on the fight against illegal immigration, a source of tension between the two sides of the Channel. Paris and London negotiated “reinforcement” their cooperation and the means to control migratory flows from France, in the wake of the Sandhurst Treaty signed in 2018 and a new agreement concluded in November, according to the two countries.

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In the entourage of the British Conservative leader, we judge ” crucial “ to work “with the French to prevent crossings and loss of human life in the Channel”, while more than 45,000 migrants illegally reached the English coast in 2022 on makeshift boats, a record despite the multiplication of plans to combat this phenomenon. Downing Street therefore hopes “continue to strengthen patrols” For “crack down on gangs” of smugglers “and stop more boats”.

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This subject will be discussed a few days after the presentation on Tuesday by the British government of a controversial bill to drastically restrict the right to asylum, strongly denounced by the UN.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine also presents a common challenge to the first two European armies, the only two equipped with nuclear weapons in Europe, pushed to come together. A context that allows “give new impetus” defense cooperation, said an adviser to the French president about this partnership set in stone by the Lancaster House Treaty in 2010 but muted since Brexit.

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The World with AFP


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