France will this week urge Britain to take in more migrants and pay a larger cost towards policing them as part of a revision of the so-called Le Touquet agreement.
By – Peter Allen
It was in 2003 that Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Jacques Chirac signed the historic document that revolutionised border controls in Channel ports.
It meant moving the French frontier to the south coast of England, and the UK frontier to northern France.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said today that reform would include Britain sharing more costs and taking in greater numbers of migrants.
‘I want to reach an additional protocol to these agreements and to take concrete measures to look after a certain number of costs by the British,’ Mr Collomb said in an interview with Paris newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.
Mr Collomb also said the British should ‘take concrete measures’ to take on ‘a larger number of people, as regards to the reception of refugees and unaccompanied minors.’
France will do everything it can to help refugees ‘but cannot take in economic migrants,’ Mr Collomb added.
His words came as President Emmanuel Macron prepared to meet Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday for the 35th UK-France summit.
It will be held at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Berkshire, with Brexit and related issues such as immigration high on the agenda.
An Elysee Palace statement explains that ‘ways to improve the handling of migrants on the common border in Calais’ will be discussed.
Before his election as head of state last May, Mr Macron described Britain’s decision to leave the EU as ‘a crime’ but he has since softened his stance.
He once suggested that Le Touquet would have to be renegotiated completely, but he is now pointing to the new clauses suggested by Mr Collomb.
Mr Macron is, however, increasingly concerned by security in Calais, where hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers have crossed into the UK over the past 20 years.
More than 8,000 were kicked out of the port town in 2016 following the razing of the so-called Calais ‘Jungle’ refugee camp, but illegal settlements are reappearing.
Those creating them hope to get across to England using ferries or the Channel Tunnel, and often pay people smugglers.
On Tuesday, both Mr Macron and Mr Collomb will visit representatives of the security services and humanitarian groups in Calais.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘We have provided help already in the form of additional security and we have put in place structures in order to find minors in Calais homes here.’
Read more: 2017/12/20