UK to boost Calais security funding as it prepares to welcome Macron
Posted January 17, 2018 1:47 p.m. EST
LONDON (CNN) — The UK government is preparing a new £44.5 million package to bolster UK border controls in France to help tackle illegal immigration.
The announcement comes on the day French President Emmanuel Macron travels to the UK to meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May as part of a major summit on security and migration at the Sandhurst Military Academy.
Macron has been outspoken in his desire to see Britain increase its spending in his pursuit of reshaping the 2003 Le Touquet agreement, a deal that allows the UK to effectively have a border on French land and vice-versa.
The deal means the UK can screen passengers and cargo traveling to the UK while still in France, and allows for action to be taken against illegal migrants before they reach Britain.
It also allows French officers to make checks on people traveling from the UK to France and farther into Europe.
'Secure as possible'
The additional financial package will be spent on security fencing, CCTV and detection technology in the French city of Calais as well as other ports along the English Channel.
"This is about investing in and enhancing the security of the UK border," a UK government spokesperson said.
"Just as we invest in our borders around the rest of the UK, it is only right that we constantly monitor whether there is more we can be doing at the UK border controls in France and Belgium to ensure they are as secure as possible."
According to the UK government, it will aid previous security work that has already reduced the number of attempts to illegally enter the country through France.
Figures provided by the Home Office reveal there were over 80,000 recorded attempts to enter the UK in 2015, which fell to 30,000 in 2017.
The news is likely to be welcomed by Macron, who pledged to renegotiate the Le Touquet treaty as part of his successful election campaign.
On Tuesday, Macron said he would challenge Britain on accepting unaccompanied minors, adding he would be seeking some "specific responses" from London on the matter.
He also said France would not tolerate another camp being built in Calais, saying the port town will not be used as a "side door" for migrants to gain access to the UK.
According to the Elysee Palace, there are 300 to 500 migrants living in Calais, down from 2,000 14 months ago.
Many are living in makeshift camps and attempting to find their way across the English Channel.
The French government recorded 115,000 attempts to enter the UK from Calais in 2017 compared to 165,000 the previous year.
Macron wanted the UK to increase its spending to help ease the pressure on Calais, which was home to the former encampment, known as the Jungle, where thousands of migrants lived before it was destroyed by French authorities in October 2016.
Macron also wants to reduce the time it takes to process asylum claims from 18 months to six, while offering protection to the most vulnerable, including women.