The Home Secretary visited Paris today (Thursday 2 July) to meet her French counterpart, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve to discuss the migration situation in Calais, and the fight against terrorism. They reaffirmed the determination of both countries to strengthen and complete their joint strategy to deal with these common challenges.
Three important decisions were taken:
• The agreement reached between both countries on 20 September 2014 is being fully implemented: the joint intervention fund of €15 million, financed by the United Kingdom, has already allowed for the strengthening of security at the Port of Calais. Protective fencing has been installed at port access points, works are due for completion in the coming days. In light of the increased migration crisis in the Mediterranean and its repercussion on Calais, where there are currently 3000 migrants, the two ministers decided to further strengthen co-operation, notably by increasing the intervention fund. This will enable the installation of additional essential arrangements to prevent access to the port via the beach, but also to secure access to the Channel Tunnel, where incidents have taken place repeatedly over the past weeks. In this context, the two ministers emphasised the importance of a rapid resumption of maritime and rail traffic, which is indispensible to economic development on both sides of the Channel. In addition, joint information campaigns to inform migrants of the reality of Great-Britain’s asylum and benefits system for migrants, to reduce the flow of migrants to Calais, will be continued and strengthened.
• France and the United Kingdom will reinforce their joint action against illegal immigration networks and the networks of people traffickers who exploit, without shame, human distress. Already, thanks to joint working, the number of networks dismantled in the Calais region in 2014 has increased by 30% compared to the previous year. This resolute action will be accompanied by a strengthening of links with transit countries, in order to support the establishment of operations to combat illegal migration and trafficking. That is the basis for ongoing work with Niger, where a migrant processing centre should be opened before the end of the year under the auspices of the International Organisation for Migration, supported by European funding. The joint intervention fund will also be used to support victims of human trafficking. The two Ministers underlined the importance of the development of policies to return illegal economic migrants, in line with the decisions taken by the European Council on 25-26 June. A joint conference will take place in London in July to support better upstream management of illegal migration flows.
• Following the joint visit to Sousse (Tunisia) by French, British and German Interior Ministers on 30 June to pay respects to the victims of the barbaric, cowardly terrorist attack on 26 June, the two Ministers decided to increase support to Tunisia in its anti-terrorist efforts. Release of EU funds will be accelerated and security for tourists in Tunisia reinforced. More than ever, democracies need to be united against terrorism.