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19 May, 2024
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UK to pay France half a billion pounds to end channel crossings

The money will be paid over 3 years and is expected to end Channel migrant crossings

Source: Daily Mail

Britain is to pay France almost half a billion pounds over the next three years in a high-stakes gamble to end Channel migrant crossings.

The Prime Minister committed to sending Paris £478 million (541 million euros) to fund a new detention centre and hundreds of extra law enforcement officers.

The announcement came as Mr Sunak met President Macron in Paris to hammer out an agreement that he hopes will let him end the flood of small boats from the continent.

Mr Sunak hailed an 'entente renewed' as they spoke together at the Elysee Palace, while Mr Macron referred to him as 'dear Rishi', after having a strained relationship with predecessors Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

But the two sides have not discussed a returns agreement to send failed asylum seekers back across the Channel. Both men swerved the question at a press conference this afternoon amid EU rows on the subject.

Mr Sunak said: 'We don't need to manage this problem, we need to break it. And today, we have gone further than ever before to put an end to this disgusting trade in human life.

'Working together, the UK and France will ensure that nobody can exploit our systems with impunity.'

The announcement came as Rishi Sunak met president Macron in Paris to hammer out an agreement that will let him end the flood of small boats from the continent.

French President Emmanuel Macron said: 'In the fight against illegal immigration we wish to make progress in lockstep.

'We're aware of the human issues and the extreme sensitivity of these issues.'

The package the UK has agreed with France to tackle migrants crossing the Channel will see hundreds of extra French law enforcement officers using enhanced technology and intelligence to prevent the small boats.

For the first time, the UK will help fund a detention centre in France to enhance its ability to cope with the level of people being trafficked across the Channel.

'This new centre will support French efforts to increase detention capacity, allowing more migrants who might otherwise travel by dangerous and illegal routes to the UK to be removed from the French coast,' the UK Government said.

'Building on our existing partnership, which saw twice as many illegal crossings stopped in 2022 than in 2021, today's agreement will also more than double the number of personnel deployed in northern France to tackle small boats, with over half of these in place by the end of the year. The UK will contribute funding towards this.'

Mr Macron said he and Mr Sunak had agreed to 'heightened coordination' and 'new initiatives' to tackle the Channel migrant crisis.

The UK has already committed more than £300 million to France in the last decade to help tackle unauthorised migration.

More than 3,000 people have already made the perilous sea journey this year, with almost 46,000 arriving by unofficial routes in 2022.

That is despite Mr Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman announcing a £63 million package to increase patrol officers by 40 per cent four months ago. That package followed a £55 million deal in 2021.

It is the first time the UK will contribute to building a detention centre in France to help deal with the number of people being trafficked.

Ministers say twice as many unauthorised crossings were stopped last year than in the previous 12 months and hope the new drones, aircraft and other surveillance technologies being funded will increase this.

Cyprus  |  Britain  |  UK  |  migration

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