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Warming relations between France and Great Britain. Emmanuel Macron met with Rishi Sunak

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Friday’s meeting between French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was supposed to lead to a “reset” in relations between the two countries, comments the Reuters agency. France 24 television reports that the first Franco-British summit in five years is intended to allow for the resumption of good relations after tensions related to Brexit or Britain’s alliances in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The time has come for a new beginning” in Franco-British relations, the French president said on Friday in Paris Emmanuel Macron during a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. – France and the United Kingdom have agreed on a multi-annual financial framework for spending to combat illegal migration across the English Channel, the French president announced.

He explained that these funds will be used, among other things, to eliminate the smuggling of migrants across the channel in small boats, to improve the monitoring system and to intervene by security forces on French territory. “We will develop operational capabilities and strengthen coordination (with the British side) on migration matters,” added the French president.

Emmanuel MacronEMMANUEL DUNAND/PAP/EPA

He stressed that the goal of achieving strategic autonomy by the European Union should be pursued in cooperation with the United Kingdom on security issues.

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Macron also informed that topics such as energy cooperation, nuclear energy, and intensification of work on joint projects and investments of France and Great Britain were discussed during the meeting. – In the near future, our desire is to help Ukraine to repel attacks, declared the French president, specifying military assistance to Ukraine as a priority.

Striving for a “reset” in relations between France and Great Britain

Macron’s meeting with Sunak on Friday was supposed to lead to a “reset” in relations between the two countries, comments Reuters. France 24 television reports that the first Franco-British summit in five years is intended to allow for the resumption of good relations after tensions related to Brexit or Britain’s alliances in the Asia-Pacific region.

The meeting of representatives of the two countries was primarily aimed at strengthening the fight against illegal migration across the English Channel, cooperation on defense issues and military assistance to Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron during a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Rishi SunakGONZALO FUENTES/PAP/EPA

“Our long history, our proximity and our shared vision of global challenges mean that the partnership between the UK and France is not only important but necessary,” Sunak declared before visiting the Elysée Palace.

As reported by France 24, the British government said that during the meeting, the leaders of the two countries would announce “increased coordination of army supplies to Ukraine” and training of Ukrainian soldiers.

During a press conference, the British Prime Minister stressed the need to “break the economic model of criminal organizations” organizing the illegal transport of migrants across the English Channel. “Today’s meeting symbolizes a new beginning, a renewed understanding,” Sunak said.

London will give Paris funds to fight illegal immigration

In the next three years Great Britain will provide France with EUR 541 million to combat illegal immigration across the English Channel. detention center in France, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Friday during a visit to Paris.

The agreement concluded in Paris by Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron provides that the funds transferred by Great Britain for the detention of illegal immigrants will increase in the coming years – in the financial year 2023-24 it will be EUR 141 million, in 2024-25 – EUR 191 million, and in 2025-26 – EUR 209 million. Together, this adds up to €541m, or £479m.

In addition to the detention centre, the first in France co-funded by the British government, the money will allow the employment of “hundreds of additional French law enforcement officers”, including the creation of “a new, highly trained, permanent French anti-small boat police mobile unit” as well as equipment for this purpose, such as drones or night vision devices. As the British government pointed out, the French side will also bear the related expenses to a large extent.

Rishi SunakGONZALO FUENTES/PAP/EPA

The amount that the UK has pledged to donate is much higher than it has been so far and much higher than expected. Britain has given France more than £250m to prevent illegal Channel crossings since 2015, and The Times reported on Friday that the new deal would amount to more than £200m over three years.

However, despite ever-increasing quotas, illegal immigration is also on the rise. Last year, 45,755 people entered the UK illegally across the English Channel – the highest number ever. A year earlier, it was 28,526 people, in 2020 – 8,466, in 2019 – 1,843, and in 2018 only 299 people. Since the beginning of this year, the number of migrants has already exceeded 3,000, which is more than twice as much as in the same period last year.

Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel MacronGONZALO FUENTES/PAP/EPA

– We can’t manage this problem, we have to break it. And today we have gone further than ever before to put an end to this disgusting trade in human lives. Working together, the UK and France will ensure that no one can use our systems with impunity,” Sunak said after meeting with Macron.

The British government has long pointed out that the increase in the number of illegal immigrants is the result of the activities of criminal gangs, and that people crossing the English Channel are usually not those who need help most, but economic migrants who can afford to pay smugglers several thousand euros.

But there is no mention in the deal of France taking back those illegal migrants who make it to the UK. Both politicians were asked about the matter during a press conference and Macron pointed out that this is not an agreement between the UK and France, but between the UK and the European Union, and that it is with the EU that London must negotiate the terms of returning illegal immigrants.

Main photo source: GONZALO FUENTES/PAP/EPA



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