France holds emergency talks in Calais over Channel crossings — without the UK

France holds emergency talks in Calais over Channel crossings — without the UK
© Provided by dw.com Thousands hope to make the perilous journey across the English Channel and talks in Calais Sunday hope to tackle the smugglers side of the business iin human trafficking

France is hosting talks in the northern city of Calais Sunday to address the issue of human trafficking gangs after 27 people died attempting to cross the English Channel in an inflatable boat last Wednesday.

Immigration ministers from Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, but not the UK, are expected to attend.

France excluded the UK from the migration talks, although it is unclear what could be achieved without the UK’s participation as it is the destination country for thousands of people attempting the dangerous journey.

On Wednesday, a total of 17 men, seven women and three minors died. Migrants still hoping to make the journey across the Channel told AFP news agency that most of the victims were Iraqis, Iranians and Afghans.

Why did France uninvite the UK?

France opted to rescind the invite it had extended to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel in the aftermath of the tragedy after Prime Minister Boris Johnson shared on Twitter a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron, which was criticized as deflecting the blame to France for the tragedy.

Macron reacted to the open letter with personal criticism of Johnson, calling him “not serious.”

An aide to French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin called the public letter outlining demands of Paris “unacceptable.”

Both countries have faced criticism for bickering in the face of human tragedy.

Officials from the EU and EU border agency Frontex as well as police agency Europol are also participating in Sunday’s meeting.

On Saturday, European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas told reporters during a trip to his native Greece that the UK needs to deal with its own migration issues after Brexit.

“I recall well the main slogan of the referendum campaign is ‘we take back control,'” Schinas said. “Since the UK took back control, it’s up to them now to find the necessary measures to operationalize the control they took back.”

What does the UK propose on migration?

In the part of the letter perhaps most contentious to Paris, Johnson proposed sending those migrants who cross the Channel back to France in the hopes of destroying the business model for human traffickers.

He also proposed joint police and coast guard patrols on the northern French coast, which France has said is a violation of its sovereignty.

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Sunday “it wasn’t wrong” of Johnson to disclose the diplomatic note as a public letter instead.

“We all need to be doing what we can to break the business model of these people-smugglers. That does mean working closely with our friends France,” Javid said.

“Our policy is very clear: these boats must stop. We can’t just do it on our own. We do need the cooperation of the French,” he added.

ar/wmr (AFP, AP)

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