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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: France-Royaume-Uni : un accord sécuritaire de plus

by Émilien Urbach

France – United Kingdom: another security agreement


Translated Sunday 20 September 2015, by Adrian Jordan

Bernard Cazeneuve and Theresa May, French interior minister and British home secretary, presented their new plan to tackle the Calais migrant situation on Thursday. Once again they opted for security alone.

French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, chose to make his return from the political sabbatical by visiting Calais. As a man of the left, he could have gone to the “new jungle”, where 3,000 of our counterparts live in infamous conditions against human dignity, and announced an emergency aid plan for them. In place of that, our minister and his British homologue, Theresa May, chose to visit Eurotunnel and signed another security agreement.

The text envisages the reinforcement of “the joint resolute fight against trafficking rings”. Materially, the British committed to paying an additional five million euros, this year and next, to finance new security barriers, cameras and security firms. One way to respond to Eurotunnel’s directors who, this week, claimed damages of 10 million euros for losses due to the desperate actions of several hundred men and women seeking refuge in the United Kingdom.

In regard to the humanitarian crisis: nothing, no figures, no measures

The new accord allows for both the deployment of British police in Calais and the creation of a joint command centre, not to facilitate asylum demands in France or England, but to fight traffickers.

No statements on figures nor additional means were, however, made in regard to the humanitarian crisis, in which these exiles find themselves herded together, in Calais, a third of whom have already made asylum applications in France. The agreement however envisages to “intensify surveillance [...] to indentify the most vulnerable, and potential victims of trafficking”, without any details of what measures would be put into place. At the moment Calais has a few hundred hostel places available at the Jules-Ferry centre, which is open to just a handful of women and children

Last spring, faced with a lack of state action, Médecins du monde deployed an emergency plan at the heart of the shantytown, which groups together all the Calais migrants, similar to those it deploys in war zones. The Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, Nils Muiznieks, reminded us on Thursday morning that “Under the European Social Charter, as emphasised by the European Committee of Social Rights, the minimum guarantees for the right to housing and emergency shelter apply to irregular migrants too”. And that: “It has also stated that foreign nationals, whether residing lawfully or not in the country, are entitled to urgent medical assistance and such basic social assistance as is necessary to cope with an immediate state of need (accommodation, food, emergency care and clothing)”.

Italy, Greece, Hungary: left with complete responsibility for reception

The post-sabbatical text from the two interior ministers has, in addition, an international dimension and it persists along the logic of externalising asylum and intensifying “talks with countries of origin”. That is to say, with the dictatorial countries such as Eritrea and Sudan which the exiles are fleeing.

In regard to the European Union (EU), Bernard Cazeneuve and Theresa May do little better. They express the desire for “a follow-up meeting with other member states [...] if possible, before the end of the year”, but promising to leave the responsibility for the reception of the refugees to Greece, Italy and Hungary, supporting them by creating “hotspots” for assessing those fleeing war and those seeking to escape poverty

For the French Communist Party (PCF), who sent out a communiqué on Thursday, “this agreement continues to consider the migrant issue from a security angle”. In addition: “We must abrogate the Dublin agreement (which denies refugees the right to seek asylum in the country of their choice and leaves the said frontline EU countries to manage the newcomers alone) and that of Le Touquet (which forces France to stop the migrants, who wish to enter England, at Calais).”

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