Sunday, November 28th, 2021
Air surveillance “day and night”
EU declares war on English Channel smugglers
Last week, 27 people died trying to cross the English Channel into the UK. Now the EU countries are reacting. They want to take much tougher action against the smugglers. An aircraft from the EU border protection authority Frontex is also to be used.
After the refugee drama in the English Channel with 27 dead, EU representatives decided to “improve cooperation with Great Britain”. This emerges from the final declaration of a crisis meeting in Calais in northern France. In the fight against smuggling gangs, it was also agreed that an aircraft from the EU border protection agency Frontex should monitor the coast of the English Channel from Wednesday.
The plane is supposed to fly over the area from France to the Netherlands “day and night”, said the French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin after the meeting with representatives of several EU countries, the EU Commission as well as the Frontex and Europol authorities. In a joint statement, the participants reaffirmed their “commitment to do everything possible to combat criminal smuggling networks more effectively”.
Darmanin affirmed that Paris was ready to work with “its British friends” to stop migrants on their way to the UK. However, he urged London to do more, particularly in the area of police cooperation, to reduce the “attractiveness” of the UK labor market and open legal channels for refugees. This must be done “at eye level”.
“We need the French”
British Home Secretary Priti Patel was absent from the meeting. She had been unloaded by Darmanin after a letter from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday sparked a diplomatic scandal between Paris and London. Paris was outraged not only by the British side’s demands to bring all migrants back to France, but also that Johnson published the letter to French President Emmanuel Macron on Twitter.
The British Minister of Health Sajid Javid reiterated in advance on Sky News London’s call for joint police patrols along the northern French coast and for the boat refugees to be taken back by France. Refugee boats are no longer allowed to cross the English Channel to Great Britain. “We cannot do it alone. We need the cooperation of the French,” he emphasized. Patel announced on the online service Twitter that she would hold talks with her European colleagues in the coming week “to prevent further tragedies in the English Channel”.
In an article for the British newspaper “Sun on Sunday”, Patel stressed the need for joint action and tougher British legislation. She and Johnson are “ready to discuss proposals with our French colleagues at any time”.
“Government hides its responsibility”
French aid organizations meanwhile called for decisive measures to create legal migration routes. “When the government blames people smugglers (for risky escape routes), it is concealing its own responsibility,” said the chairman of the organization “L’Auberge des migrants”, François Guennoc. “If there were legal routes to Britain, there would be no people smugglers.”
“I fear the answer will be solely repressive and security-related,” said Juliette Delaplace from the local Catholic refugee agency. She expects that politics will “again blame the smugglers”, although it is politics that “promote the smuggling networks”. Pope Francis expressed his “pain” on Sunday at the death of the 27 migrants in the English Channel.