UK-France Joint Statement: Strengthening Cooperation against Irregular Immigration

UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman and French Home and Overseas Minister Gérald Darmanin today confirmed a series of measures as part of their continued cooperation to combat all forms of irregular immigration, including border crossings. makeshift boats, in accordance with international law.

In 2021, the UK and France worked together to tackle irregular immigration by avoiding more than 23,000 Impromptu boat rides and more 30,000 this year. In addition, we have dismantled 55 organized crime networks and carried out more than 500 arrests thanks to the work of the joint Franco-British intelligence cell, in which British and French officials gather and analyze operational intelligence to prevent crossings and dismantle the networks that organize them.

However, the number of crossing attempts continues to increase. Accordingly, the UK and France will intensify their cooperation in order to make the improvised artisanal route unfeasible, save lives, dismantle criminal groups and prevent and deter irregular migration in transit countries as well as upstream.

A common strategy

The UK and France will implement new joint strategic objectives and an operational plan to promote cooperation. The joint strategic objectives are broken down into three areas:

  • stop the expansion of illegal crossings and make the improvised boat route unfeasible by deploying technological and human resources specifically dedicated to monitoring, detecting and intercepting attempts to cross the border illegally (“smart border”);
  • the dismantling of organized crime and facilitation networks through true joint work, including, among others, the collection and use of intelligence on intercepted migrants (“resilient border”);
  • prevent and deter illegal crossing attempts through joint work at the political, operational and communication levels, to the extent possible, together with the countries of origin and transit of migrants (“deterrence border”).

A new integrated approach

The UK and France will take significant and innovative steps leading to a more integrated and effective approach, including:

  • expand the successful Joint Intelligence Cell to further deepen intelligence sharing and allow for additional investigations to dismantle criminal groups;
  • by deploying more French internal security forces to patrol French beaches, with an agreement to increase these deployments by 40% over the next 5 months;
  • deploying, for the first time, teams of onboard observers in our two countries to, without undermining each other’s sovereignty, strengthen common understanding of the state of the phenomenon through field observations, to improve migrant reporting and increase the exchange of information on the phenomenon;
  • through a common approach to work with countries in our immediate neighbourhood, in order to maximize our efforts to disrupt the operations of traffickers before they reach France; in the coming weeks there will be a meeting at the ministerial level in the “Calais” format;
  • by setting up a task force to curb the recent increase in the number of Albanians and organized criminal groups exploiting irregular immigration routes to Western Europe and the UK;
  • through broader operational cooperation with the French command center that coordinates and exchanges information between the two countries in the fight against irregular migration through the English Channel, supported by Franco-British joint analysis teams with an exchange of liaison officers;
  • increasing joint efforts, with the help of intelligence networks, to attack the movement of goods that facilitate crossings, thus attacking another crucial element of the smugglers’ business model;
  • investing in state-of-the-art surveillance technologies to enable faster detection of crossing attempts to ensure immediate alerting and disruption of such attempts;
  • fund detection dogs at ports to identify people seeking to cross illegally;
  • through investments in port security infrastructure, such as the installation of surveillance cameras at the main border crossings along the Canal coast;
  • investing in reception centers in the south of France, in order to discourage migrants entering France via the Mediterranean migration route from going to the Channel coast and attempting dangerous crossings and offering them safe alternatives;
  • through investments in return centers to encourage voluntary removal to countries of origin when conditions are met.
  • These activities will begin immediately. The UK has committed to invest up to €72.2 million in 2022-23 to support the completion of this work. The objectives described are part of a multi-year strategy that will require a continuous and permanent commitment from both parties to achieve them.

next steps

Ministers will closely monitor the impact of these measures and their implementation through a joint Franco-British monitoring committee.

The ministers recognize the importance of cooperation with neighboring countries and European partners and will continue discussions with them to ensure a multilateral approach in a forthcoming meeting with the closest neighboring countries.

Ministers recognize that efforts cannot stop there and are committed to a regular dialogue on further innovative measures that can be taken to combat irregular immigration at all levels. This declaration will be the basis for a broader and more ambitious partnership between our two countries, ahead of next year’s Franco-British summit.

Dennis Alvarado

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