France and the UK turn to law and order in the long-running migrant crisis


The deaths of 27 migrants in the frigid waters of the Channel as they sought to reach the United Kingdom from France in a small boat on Wednesday forced the two governments to put aside their post-Brexit differences to tackle the crisis.

However, analysts say the solutions they advocate, centered around a stronger security response, may not be enough to stem the wave of migrants heading to the UK.

In the wake of the tragedy, French Prime Minister Jean Castix said the problem should be “dealt with at the intergovernmental and European levels”. In Downing Street, while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said French efforts “have not been enough”, a senior diplomatic adviser insisted that the UK and France needed to “work together on the larger geopolitical and security challenges we face”.

The drownings highlighted the enormous difficulty the two governments face in dealing with a protracted crisis. While Paris and London have cooperated for decades to tackle the influx of asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa seeking to reach English shores from northern France, relations have been fraught since Brexit.

“This is amazing [disaster] “It had to happen someday,” said demographic and economist Gérard Francois Dumont.

Johnson and Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, have pledged to focus on smugglers. To do this, Macron said there is a need for cooperation not only with the UK, but also with EU neighbors including Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, because migrants travel through those countries with the help of criminal gangs of people smugglers on the way to Calais and Dunkirk and their dangerous journeys across the Channel. Castex noted that the majority of migrants attempting to cross the canal enter France “a few hours before they attempt to cross”.

France invited ministers responsible for migration from the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, and the European Commission, to Calais on Sunday to discuss how to strengthen “the fight against human trafficking networks that exploit the flow of migrants,” Castex said.

France says it has detained 1,500 smugglers this year, including five after the latest incident. But Dumont said there was more that Paris had to do to deal with international criminal acts with annual turnover of billions of euros, with presidents around the world — in untouchable places, such as northern Cyprus — and being able to adapt to responses. Government.

One of the reasons for the increase in the number of crossings by boat is that the British and French authorities have tightened security at the ports and the entrance to the Channel Tunnel.

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Dumont suggested that one way to reduce the number of illegal crossings would be to allow those tempted to migrate remotely to apply for asylum, before their perilous journeys.

“We know the security approach is not working because it hasn’t worked in the Mediterranean,” said Heather Grabbie, director of the Open Society Institute for European Policy, referring to the influx of migrants in small boats into southern Europe from North Africa. coast. “The Medium has become a graveyard that harms everyone’s integrity.”

What was needed, she said, was “a properly functioning system for those who need asylum, and legal avenues for economic arrivals”, an area where the EU has failed as badly as the UK although it has been essential to be able to manage the constant pressure of internal migration . We have millions of refugees around us [the edge of] Europe, stuck in Turkey for example.”

Brexit has prompted the UK to leave the so-called “Dublin Regulation” – under which asylum seekers are supposed to apply in the first EU country they enter, a clause that legislated London’s requests for France and other EU members to process their claims. But even if the UK rejoins, it may not make much difference. “The Dublin accords don’t work,” Dumont said.

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For now, however, British and European politicians are not inclined to reform asylum systems designed decades ago for smaller migration flows. Instead, under the pressure of public anti-immigrant sentiment, they are intent on focusing on security reinforcements.

In France and the United Kingdom, there are also calls to cancel or renegotiate the 2003 bilateral Le Touquet agreements under which border checks by both countries are carried out in one location at the point of departure rather than on each side of the Canal – meaning that they are monitored. Borders for those leaving France by French officers to the United Kingdom.

However, a British minister, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was no desire to change Le Touquet or join Dublin. “We have made our sovereign choice with Brexit on these treaties, and we are not reconsidering them,” the minister said.

Some in Johnson’s government believe the long-term answer may be an Articles 3 and 8 examination of the Human Rights Act which, one Home Office insider said, “makes deportations very difficult”. The British minister added that the UK’s membership in the European Convention on Human Rights could be discussed. “In the long term,[leaving the European Court of Human Rights]may be part of the solution.”

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