Peter Allen, Daily Mail (London), September 30, 2009
Britain must sign up to an agreement that would open its borders to anyone travelling from Europe without a passport or visa, the mayor of Calais has insisted.
As riot police began tearing down another illegal camp in Calais, the French authorities admitted yesterday they are fighting a losing battle against migrants desperate to reach the UK.
Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart has placed the blame squarely on Britain for not signing up to the Schengen agreement.
Armed officers carrying flame throwers, stun guns and tear gas grenades cleared dozens of makeshift shelters from wasteland close to the Calais town hall yesterday.
The operation came a week after the infamous Jungle camp was bulldozed and 278 men, mainly young Afghanistanis, were arrested.
Most of those had already been freed on human rights grounds.
Ms Bouchart has slammed Britain for being being ‘unable to control its own borders’.
‘Calais has become a no-go area and that’s because we’ve become hostages of the British government,’ said Mrs Bouchart, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP Party.
‘Britain is unable to control its own borders, so we’re doing the job for them because they’re not part of Schengen.’
The Schengen Agreement allows anyone to travel between designated EU states without passports or visas. Mrs Bouchart insisted the British should sign up to it.
Pierre de Bousquet, Prefect of the Pas-de-Calais region, insisted the main target yesterday was people smugglers who charge up to £1,000 a time to get migrants into Britain.
‘For months, we’ve been hitting the smuggling rings hard and we’re now organising at least one operation a week with great efficiency,’ he said.
At least 20 new mini-camps have appeared around Calais since the destruction of the Jungle, which at one stage housed as many as 800 migrants.
Britain has called on the French to improve security around the Calais area, where some 2,000 migrants are still sleeping rough.
But as she supervised the dismantling of the Jungle camp, an angry Mrs Bouchart said: ‘Great Britain has no right to put pressure on us.
‘They’ve imposed this situation on us. Every politician should keep repeating this on every single occasion.
‘The more they say it, the more they’ll be throwing light on the problem which has been imposed on it.’