France, UK sign new deal to thwart migrant Channel crossings
Particularly contentious issues have involved migration, with London accusing Paris of not doing enough to prevent migrants from crossing the Channel.
Under a new agreement signed on Monday, Britain agreed to pay France an additional 72.2 million euros ($74.5 million) to prevent migrant boat crossings in the English Channel.
This year, approximately 42,000 migrants have crossed the Channel from France to England.
The number is significantly higher than last year's figure of 28,561, which was a thousand-fold increase from 2018 when migrants and asylum seekers first began sailing inflatables across one of the world's busiest shipping channels.
"There are no quick fixes, but this new arrangement will mean we can significantly increase the number of French gendarmes patrolling the beaches in northern France," Britain's Home Secretary Suella Braverman said in a statement after signing the accord with her French counterpart Gerald Darmanin.
The additional funds will fund a 40% increase in the number of security forces patrolling France's northern beaches, amounting to an additional 100 people, according to the French Interior Ministry.
For the first time, teams of observers will be deployed on both sides of the Channel to "strengthen common understanding."
"The arrangement means, for the first time, specialist UK officers will also be embedded with their French counterparts," the British Interior Ministry said.
Tensions over migrants
Several British governments have given France hundreds of millions of euros over the past ten years to enhance border security along the Channel coast, particularly in the area surrounding the port of Calais.
In the past, UK funds have been used to buy beach patrol SUVs, drones, motorcycles, and thermal imaging binoculars. However, rumors that Paris is not acting sufficiently have persisted in Britain, fuelled by members of the ruling Conservative party and the right-wing media.
The agreement reflects improved relations between France and the UK under British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, which followed years of strained relations under Liz Truss and Boris Johnson. When 27 migrants drowned in the English Channel in November of last year, Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron got into one of their worst-ever public arguments.
The second meeting between Sunak and Macron will take place this week at the G20 in Indonesia after their amicable first encounter last week on the sidelines of the UN climate summit in Egypt.
Over the course of the past ten years, diplomatic relations throughout Europe have been strained by the issue of how to manage the influx of asylum seekers and economic migrants from Africa and the Middle East.
Following Rome's refusal to allow a rescue ship carrying migrants to dock at its Mediterranean ports, France and Italy—which recently elected a new far-right government—got into a fight last week.
After last week's standoff, which was resolved when France allowed the boat's passengers to disembark, Macron and his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella urged a return to "full cooperation" on Monday.