Macron visits Calais ahead of migration talks

Emmanuel Macron © EU2017EE
Emmanuel Macron © EU2017EE

French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Calais today, in advance of a meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss migration.

The president announced while campaigning last year that he would push for a systemic review of the 2003 Le Touquet agreement, which moved British immigration checks to the French border. This means that British border officers undertake checks in France before travellers cross the Channel.

Additionally Macron’s interior minister Gérard Collomb has hinted that the president might use the talks with May – which are due to take place on Thursday – to request money from the UK to help fund border security and deal with undocumented migrants, and implore Britain to take in more refugees and unaccompanied child migrants.

The port of Calais became a focal point during the migrant crisis in 2015, when a large camp was established by migrants, many of whom were unregistered and undocumented, wishing to travel to the UK.

What reforms is Macron planning?

The Guardian reports that as well as reforming France and the UK’s co-operation in handling migration, Macron has declared his intention to overhaul France’s immigration and asylum policies, to reduce the number of people entering or living in the country illegally and provide a better process for those seeking asylum. According to the Guardian, the new proposals will address five key areas:

  • Accelerating the asylum application process;
  • Integration of refugees;
  • An overhaul of the asylum system;
  • Controlling the flow of migrants; and
  • Reforming laws on illegal immigration.

The number of migrants entering France increased by 17% last year over 2016’s figures. The country faced around 100,000 asylum applications last year, and a further 85,000 people were refused entry at the border.

Currently, only around 4% of those who are refused asylum in the country are deported, and Macron has previously said that while his government did not want to call the right of asylum into question, this did not mean “welcoming people indiscriminately”.

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