Four days after the deadly sinking in the English Channel, participants in an emergency European meeting in Calais agreed to “improve joint cooperation with the United Kingdom” in the face of migratory trafficking, despite the absence of the British, against a backdrop of persistent tensions between London and Paris.
The meeting took place in reaction to the worst migratory drama to have occurred in the sea separating France from the United Kingdom, which claimed the lives of at least 27 shipwrecked migrants on Wednesday.
“These deaths are too numerous” and “we cannot accept that other people die”, declared in opening the French Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin.
The ministers or officials responsible for French, German, Dutch and Belgian immigration, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs and the directors of the European criminal police agencies Europol and Frontex borders gathered.
On board fragile boats, migrants now try almost daily to reach the English coast, a phenomenon which, according to Mr. Darmanin, has taken on an unprecedented scale since Brexit.
He announced that the European border agency Frontex would deploy a plane from Wednesday to “day and night, to be able to help the French, Dutch and Belgian police” which monitor the coast.
In a joint statement, the participants “reaffirmed their commitment to do everything possible to fight more effectively against criminal networks of smugglers” and recognized the need “to improve joint cooperation with the United Kingdom”.
– Reduce “British” attractiveness –
Mr. Darmanin himself reaffirmed France’s desire to “work” with “her British friends and allies”.
But he asked them to do more, especially in terms of police cooperation, to reduce the “attractiveness” of the English labor market or to open legal channels for refugees.
Mr. Darmanin had disinvited his counterpart Priti Patel on Friday, in response to a letter posted on Twitter by Boris Johnson asking Paris to take back migrants arriving from France in Britain.
Missing in Calais, Ms. Patel announced Sunday on Twitter “urgent talks with (her) European counterparts” next week, “to avoid further tragedies”. She spoke on Sunday with Ankie Broekers-Knols, the Dutch Secretary of State for Justice and Security.
Ms Patel said during this conversation that she would endeavor to cooperate with the EU, Ms Brokers-Knols told AFP. “I reported it to the Calais meeting,” she added.
“The death of these 27 people must be a clear call to cooperate,” Ms. Patel insisted on Sunday in The Sun.
“The relation with the United Kingdom is not easy but necessary, our geography pushes us to work together”, admitted Mr. Darmanin who again challenged “British declarations and public acts” complicating the collaboration.
He referred to a meeting on Monday on the issue around Emmanuel Macron.
– “Prevent chaos” –
In Calais, a senior official at the German Interior Ministry for his part deemed “urgent” that “a post-Dublin agreement between the European Union and Great Britain be concluded”.
Stephan Mayer, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, referred to the so-called “Dublin” European regulation, which gives the first country of entry of a migrant into the EU the responsibility of processing his application for asylum, but which ceased to apply in the United Kingdom on 1 January.
It is “important to work, of course, closely with the UK. We have to prevent the loss of life,” concluded EU Home Affairs Commissioner Yvla Johansson, adding: “We have to prevent chaos from coming. at our external borders “.
Held at a distance by the police, around forty demonstrators chanted “Darmanin assassin, you have blood on your hands” when the ministers arrived. “This border has been killing for too long,” proclaimed a banner.
The investigation into the shipwreck is being carried out at the National Jurisdiction in charge of the fight against organized crime, in Paris. But nothing has yet filtered, neither on the nationality of the victims, nor on the causes of the tragedy.
A young Iraqi Kurd was killed in the shipwreck, according to her family’s testimony to AFP in Soran, Iraq. Only an Iraqi and a Somali were saved.