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France and UK hail ‘new start’ in post-Brexit era, agree measures to tackle Channel crossings

WorldEuropeFrance and UK hail 'new start' in post-Brexit era, agree measures to tackle Channel crossings
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French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ahead of the 36th Franco-British Summit at the Elysee Palace on March 10, 2023 in Paris, France.

Chesnote | Getty Images News | Getty Images

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday hailed a “moment of reunification” after the political turmoil between the two countries following Brexit.

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“This summit is really extraordinary,” Macron said at a joint news conference on Friday afternoon, according to a translation. “It’s a moment I would clearly say of reunion, reconnection and a fresh start.”

His remarks came as the two political leaders announced that progress had been made on illegal immigration, energy and security challenges.

Britain’s Sunak acknowledged that the bilateral relationship between London and Paris had faced its challenges in recent years, but said Friday’s meeting marked “a new beginning” for both countries.

Some of the agreements reached on migration include Sunak and Macron saying a new detention center would be set up in northern France, an additional 500 new officers patrolling French beaches and more drones and surveillance technologies being deployed.

On defence, the countries trained Ukrainian marines to help Ukraine win the war against Russia, enhance the interoperability of their armed forces, and jointly explore the development of complex weapons such as air defense and long-range weapons. agreed to do.

Their working engagement marked the first in-person meeting between the British and French leaders since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Sunak and Macron were seen warmly welcoming each other at the Elysee Palace on Friday morning.

“The destinies of the United Kingdom and France are linked,” Macron said via Twitter, as he welcomed Sunak to Paris. “Our challenges, shared. Protection of our planet, support for Ukraine, cooperation on matters of security and energy: it is together that we move forward,” he said.

Macron and Sunak are expected to hold a press conference soon after the conclusion of the talks.

They are expected to hammer out agreements on migrant crossings, energy security and protection from the Russian threat. Sunak and Macron have presented the summit as an opportunity to reset the strained cross-Channel relationship.

Macron speaking ahead of meeting with Sunak Said“Our deep history, our close proximity and our shared worldview mean that a strong partnership between the UK and France is not only valuable, it is essential.”

He said, “As we face new and unprecedented threats, it is vital that we strengthen the structure of our alliance so that we are ready to meet the challenges of the future. That is what we are talking about today at the UK-France summit I will.” ,

earlier this week Unveiled There are plans to stop people crossing the English Channel in small boats.

The initiative was sharply criticized by opposition MPs and refugee charities. The United Nations refugee agency said that it “deeply concerned“By the Bill, which prevents people who have entered the UK illegally from claiming asylum.

the UK Agreed France to pay 63 million pounds ($75.5 million) a year in 2022 to increase surveillance of French beaches to try to stop people crossing the English Channel in small boats.

Clearing the ‘political and diplomatic fog’

Analysts at political risk advisory Eurasia Group did not expect any significant announcements from the summit, but did expect progress on bilateral defense cooperation and joint action to combat illegal migration across the English Channel.

He noted that French officials previously accused former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson of instigating several diplomatic disputes between Paris and London. These include arguments Post-Brexit Fishing RightsCOVID-19 restrictions and a French contract to sell submarines to Australia which was derailed by another US-UK deal with Canberra,

Analysts at Eurasia Group said there was a feeling among UK observers that Macron had deliberately made life difficult for London following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in 2016.

“The most important achievement of the summit will be the removal of the political and diplomatic haze over the English Channel that has plagued bilateral relations amid Brexit,” he said.

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