The United Kingdom will pay France around 480 million pounds ($577 million) over three years to help stop migrants crossing the Channel in small boats. The announcement was made during a summit between UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. The money, which will be paid in instalments, will help fund a detention centre in France and boost patrols on French beaches.
While the leaders agreed to move forward on nuclear energy cooperation, reaffirmed their backing for Ukraine and vowed to boost inter-operability of their military forces, including through the development of future missiles and air defence systems, migration was the prime focus for Sunak. Since becoming the UK PM in October, he has made stopping small boats a priority after the number of migrants arriving on the south coast of England soared to more than 45,000 last year, up 500 percent in the last two years.
He has proposed new legislation to bar those arriving in small boats from claiming asylum, but for this he needs France’s cooperation to intercept the boats and break the people trafficking rings behind the flow of arrivals from Afghanistan, Iran, Syria and other countries.
As part of the new deal, Britain will help fund a detention centre in France while Paris will deploy more French personnel and enhanced technology to patrol its beaches. Officers from both countries will also look to work with countries along the routes favoured by people traffickers.