LONDON (Sputnik) – The United Kingdom and France signed on Thursday a treaty on the reinforcement of cooperation for the coordinated management of their shared border, the relevant document was published on the UK Prime Minister’s office website.
According to the document, the two sides agreed to “further enhance cooperation on managing their shared border.” In particular, the treaty stipulates the facilitation of formal procedures for those who seek asylum by crossing the shared borders in the French port of Calais – adult applicants should be transferred to another party within 30 working days (instead of six months as previously), while an unaccompanied minor should be transferred within 15 working days.
Moreover, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said during talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday that the United Kingdom and France agreed to strengthen the security infrastructure with extra CCTV, fencing and infra-red technology at Calais and other border crossings, the UK prime minister stressed.
“President Macron and I have both confirmed that the UK and France remain committed to the principles of the longstanding Le Touquet agreement, under which the UK is able to carry out full border checks on French soil,” May pointed out.
Under the existing Le Touquet accord, signed in 2003, UK border officials are able to carry out document checks at English Channel ports in France and vice versa. The deal means that undocumented immigrants found by the UK officials in France are barred from entering the United Kingdom before they reach the country’s border.
Furthermore, the two countries will seek to reduce the number of people attempting to cross the border illegally “at risk to safety and life” and to “reduce migratory pressure at the shared border and on the French side of the Channel and North Sea.” The sides also agreed to adopt a set of measures to fight against organized crimes, fraud and illegal human and goods trafficking.
Since 2015, Calais, as well as other northern French cities, has faced an influx of refugees and asylum seekers heading to the United Kingdom. The situation led to the creation of the infamous refugee “jungle” camp in Calais, which was dismantled in 2016. Despite this, asylum seekers and refugees still arrive in the city and have to stay on French soil with no proper refuge or sanitary conditions. Moreover, human rights organizations have unveiled malicious practices of the local police, who abuse migrants or use tear gas on them.
France has repeatedly called on the United Kingdom to engage more actively in tackling the migration issue in Calais. Specifically, Paris has said that London should resettle more unaccompanied child refugees who want to reunite with their families in the United Kingdom.
Theresa May also said during talks that the cooperation between the UK and France in the defense area is critical for strengthening security in Europe.
“The President and I agree on the importance of the UK-France relationship, not just to our security but to European security… We have agreed that UK-France co-operation remains critical to European defense and that together we will continue to play a full role to improve the security of the continent,” May said, as quoted by the prime minister’s office.
The treaty on the reinforcement of cooperation for the coordinated management of the shared border is due to enter into force on February 1, 2018.