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The president of the company that runs the port of Calais has said that Britain should pay the cost of immigration checks carried out at the French Channel port, according to a report published by the Telegraph.
In an interview with French press, Jean-Marc Puissesseau said: “When the bilateral ‘Le Touquet’ agreements between France and the UK were signed in 2004, fixing the UK border at Calais, we were ordered to carry out these checks and to employ staff.”
“UK immigration traffic has increased since then. We have more and more staff carrying out the checks to a point where today it represents annual expenditure of €8 million, a sum likely to grow if there are further rises in traffic,” he added.
Following Britain’s departure from the EU on 31 January, 2020 and then no longer applying EU rules from 1 January, 2021, the basis on which many agreements were made between Britain and France are no longer the same, according to Puissesseau.
It’s understood that the port of Calais currently has around 200 immigration officers deployed at various checkpoints to detect migrant stowaways hidden in trucks or other vehicles. Staff at Calais examine 900,000 trucks a year.
Puissesseau has reportedly written to French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, demanding changes to the Le Touquet agreements that would enable France to make the UK foot the bill for immigration checks. “We want to be compensated even if France thinks it has the means to pay,” Puissesseau said.
UK immigration deal
Back in July, a deal was struck between the UK and France that would see Britain pay more than £50 million to France in an effort to crackdown on illegal immigration. The deal was agreed by UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel. However, there have been several occasions where Britain has threatened to pull the funding amid ongoing disputes over fishing rights.
The number of immigrants who have crossed the Channel in 2021 has already exceeded the total for the whole of 2020, with two months of the year still remaining.
News that Britain will pay £55 million toward French border patrols has sparked fury among MPs, who have argued that France should be responsible for the costs.
According to the Home Office, the deal will see police patrols along French beaches more than doubled for the second time in a year in an effort to stop small boats departing for Britain from beaches in France.
Channel crossing surge
Meanwhile, with Priti Patel’s new Nationality and Borders Bill set to come into force in 2022, people smugglers are now in a race against time to beat new laws, which include an increased prison sentence for people smugglers from four years to life.
Professional officer for the Immigration Service Union, Lucy Moreton, said: “People smugglers will make use of any fears to try to encourage people to make the crossing and pay more for the crossing.”
The UK government continues to insist that it is using ‘every tool possible’ to stem the flow of migrants crossing the Channel.
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