Posted on November 15, 2022

France and UK Sign Agreement to Curb Channel Crossings

Thomas Adamson and Jill Lawless, Associated Press, November 14, 2022

The U.K. and France signed an agreement Monday that will see more police patrol beaches in northern France in an attempt to stop migrants from trying to cross the English Channel in small boats — a regular source of friction between the two.

As scores of people were picked up and brought ashore Monday by a U.K. Border Force vessel, the British government said it had agreed to pay France 72.2 million euros ($75 million) in 2022-2023 — almost 10 million euros more than under an existing deal — in exchange for France increasing security patrols along the coast by 40%.

That includes 350 more gendarmes and police guarding beaches in Calais and Dunkirk, as well as more drones and night vision equipment to help officers detect unauthorized crossings.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the deal would mean “for the first time, British officials embedded in French operations to strengthen coordination and the effectiveness of our operations.”

The agreement, signed by French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and British Home Secretary Suella Braverman in Paris, contains proposals to fight crime by harvesting information from intercepted migrants to help tackle smuggling networks.

No specific target for boat interceptions was included.

The U.K. receives fewer asylum-seekers than many European nations, including Germany, France and Italy, but thousands of migrants from around the world travel to northern France each year in hopes of crossing the channel. Some want to reach the U.K. because they have friends or family there, others because they speak English or because it’s perceived to be easy to find work.

In recent years there’s been a sharp increase in the number of people attempting the journey in dinghies and other small craft as authorities clamped down on other routes such as stowing away on buses or trucks.

More than 40,000 people have arrived in Britain after making the hazardous Channel trip so far this year, up from 28,000 in all of 2021 and 8,500 in 2020.

The European Union borders and coast guard agency, Frontex, says 62,323 migrants were detected in the channel in the first 10 months of 2022, a 70% increase on the same period last year. The figure includes both successful and intercepted crossings.