UK to send almost half a billion pounds to France in new migrant deal
Britain will pay France almost half a billion pounds as part of a new deal to tackle Channel migrant crossings. Rishi Sunak announced the agreement after meeting French President Emmanuel Macron during a UK-France summit at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Friday.
The UK will send France £478 million (541m euros) to fund a new package that will include hundreds of French law enforcement officers and a new detention centre established in France.
The UK Government said: “This new centre will support French efforts to increase detention capacity, allowing more migrants who might otherwise travel by dangerous and illegal routes to the UK to be removed from the French coast.
“Building on our existing partnership, which saw twice as many illegal crossings stopped in 2022 than 2021, today’s agreement will also more than double the number of personnel deployed in northern France to tackle small boats, with over half of these in place by the end of the year. The UK will contribute funding towards this.”
Mr Sunak and Mr Macron gave a joint press conference this afternoon following earlier summit talks in private.
Speaking at the press conference, the French leader hailed a “new beginning” in Anglo-French relations.
He said: “It is a moment of reunion, of reconnection and of a new beginning.”
Mr Macron said they had agreed on a “new ambitious bilateral framework” to get a grip on small boats carrying migrants across the Channel.
He said: “What we have decided is heightened co-ordination on our activities.
“We must act together in a fully shared framework to do this with all the Europeans who are concerned by the transit and crossing and some countries from which the traffic is organised.”
The UK-France summit – which is the first in five years – is being viewed as a thawing in cross-Channel relations.
Tensions festered between London and Paris during Boris Johnson’s premiership, with Brexit and the Aukus submarines deal causing friction.
Mr Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss controversially said the “jury is out” on whether Mr Macron was Britain’s friend.
Asked on the train whether Mr Macron was a “friend or foe”, Mr Sunak replied: “I said at the time I thought France was not just a friend but a close friend of the UK, and I stand by that.
“I can’t figure out the past, all I can do is look forward, and my view is that having a strong collaborative relationship with the French with President Macron is a good thing for the country.”
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