May 20, 2018

France will never allow another 'Jungle' here, says Macron in Calais

17 January 2018, 01:47 | Camille Rivera

British Prime Minister Theresa May with French President Emmanuel Macron at an EU summit last year REUTERS Yves Herman

British Prime Minister Theresa May with French President Emmanuel Macron at an EU summit last year                  REUTERS  Yves Herman

PRESIDENT Emmanuel Macron vowed Tuesday that France would no longer allow migrant camps like the notorious "Jungle" as he defended a tougher line on immigration that has attracted sharp criticism from some of his allies.

New legislation being drawn up is created to control the flow of migrants, improve and speed up the system dealing with asylum seekers, help the integration of refugees but also step up expulsions of illegal migrants and those who fail to obtain refugee status. Macron used his speech to denounce the use of tear gas and physical violence against migrants, saying no breaches of professional ethics by police would be tolerated.

Immigration poses a tricky political challenge for Macron, with his newly formed centrist Republic On The Move (LREM) party divided on how to greet new arrivals.

"I think we can improve the situation without knocking everything down", Macron said later at Calais city hall.

A surge in new business creations since President Emmanuel Macron become president last May lends some credence to his push to turn France into what he has called a "start-up nation".

"Where their tent canvasses are slashed in Paris, " they wrote. "Where people are getting lost, their hands and feet frozen, on the snowy slopes of the French-Italian border", the letter said.

Macron has a strong negotiating position at the Sandhurst summit - he would prove a vital ally for May in this year's Brexit trade talks.

Macron was expected to lay out demands in Calais for Britain to take in more refugees from northern France and increase its funding for securing the border.

During and after the so-called Jungle camp's clearance a year ago, more than 750 "unaccompanied minors" were brought from Calais to the United Kingdom in a move accompanied by some controversy, as a number of supposed "child migrants" photographed among the coachloads of people transferred from the northern French town looked far older than 17, sporting deep wrinkles and receding hairlines.

Police in the port city routinely break up makeshift camps of migrants hoping to stow away on trucks crossing to Britain, a favoured destination for Afghans and east Africans.

The French government recorded 115,000 attempts to enter the United Kingdom from Calais in 2017 compared to 165,000 in the previous year.

British and French security forces cooperate according to the "Le Touquet" border treaty, which allows British police and border guards to work on French soil, and keep most unwanted migrants from ever reaching British shores. This was 50,000 fewer than the year before. The agreement is unpopular in France.

Looking towards Brexit, the United Kingdom government also wants to expand conversations beyond defence.

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