Boris Johnson has offered to work “further and faster” with France and the EU to try to prevent undocumented migrants from crossing the Channel, after dozens drowned in an attempt to reach the UK. United
In a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron, published Thursday evening, the British Prime Minister called for more cooperation with Paris and Brussels on the return of migrants making the sea voyage to England.
“The EU has readmission agreements with countries like Belarus and the Russian Federation; I hope that such an agreement can also be reached quickly with the United Kingdom, ”wrote Johnson, in a letter also copied to European Council President Charles Michel.
Pending such an agreement, Johnson called on Macron to conclude a bilateral readmission agreement “to allow all illegal migrants crossing the Channel to be returned”.
He argued that “it would have an immediate effect and would dramatically reduce – if not stop – level crossings, saving lives by fundamentally breaking the business model of criminal gangs.”
Britain’s post-Brexit border plans aim to return migrants to the first country deemed safe they enter en route to the UK, as well as set up offshore processing centers for asylum seekers. However, these plans are based on finding international partners willing to welcome returnees and have struggled to gain support.
Johnson – who is under increasing domestic pressure to reduce migrant travel to Britain – also reiterated his call for joint British and French patrols “to prevent more boats from leaving French beaches,” and he suggested the prospect of closer technological and intelligence cooperation.
France on Thursday invited Belgian, German, Dutch and British ministers – as well as representatives of the European Commission – to a meeting Sunday in the Channel port of Calais to discuss the issue.