It is correct to say that the tension between France and the United Kingdom it has increased since the death of 27 migrants in the English Channel. But what happened on Wednesday 24 only adds to a series of events that have been confronting both European nations.
The international analyst Francesco Tucci proposes not only to observe the latest events that have caused bumps in your relationship, but also to remember that the two countries carry on their backs one rivalry of several centuries.
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“When both nations were developing, the Hundred Years War happened, for example. To those rivalries and historical jealousies, now that there are new complications, such as irregular migration”.
During the first half of September, the BBC noted that so far this year more than 14 thousand had been registered “arrivals on British shores”Across the English Channel.
In November, according to German wave, that number increased to 25,600.
Migration is, let’s say, the icing on the cake of a conflict-filled year between Paris and London.
Tucci points to the Aukus alliance, the agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia that boycotted the million-dollar sale of French submarines.
“The French took it like a stab in the back”.
And indeed, that has also wreaked havoc on the relationship between the US and France. To date, and regardless of the fact that the dialogues between the two have taken place at different levels of government, the rough edges have not been smoothed out.
There are also the maritime problems caused by ‘brexit’: France demands that the United Kingdom comply with the law and allow its fishing boats to continue working in certain areas of the English Channel.
France 24 note:
“The recent escalation is part of a conflict that has raged for years. The Canal has been a place that is part of the maritime tradition of both nations, so it presents an important symbolic content”.
“In addition, having a great relevance in geopolitical terms, having a strategic position of entry to the European continent”.
After the threat of President Emmanuel Macron to block the import of British shellfish – which generates more than 500 million pounds for the English – and even though there are still disagreements, there are new attempts to solve the impasses.
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Migration has no time to stop
The number of people traveling to United Kingdom undocumented through the English Channel, has been increasing in the last three years.
According to BBC, in 2019 it did not reach 2,000, but already in 2020 it passed 8,000, and now it exceeds 25,000, being that the daily record was set at the end of August (828).
The trend continues, even though the UK has decided to fund French plans to halt the flow with more than € 60 million.
The tragedy that occurred this Wednesday (the shipwreck and death of almost thirty people trying to reach the United Kingdom) has been the best sign that the situation is uncontrollable.
It is in this context that France and the United Kingdom have accused each other. Neither has wanted to accept responsibility.
“There is poor immigration management [en el Reino Unido]”, Declared Gerald Darmanin, French Interior Minister.
His British peer, Priti Patel, answered: “We have had difficulty persuading some of our partners, particularly the French, to do things in a way that we believe the situation deserves”.
It is clear to Tucci that if this has happened, it is the fault of both nations.
“The European Union is focused on tackling the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic. France is probably washing its hands for that reason”.
If this happens from the English Channel and heading towards the island, it makes sense to ask, Why doesn’t France control its own territory?
“It is very difficult to achieve this because, once these people enter the European Union and have not been identified, it is very difficult for them to be detained later and, although it is not easy, they will be able to reach their destination countries.”.
And, from the other side, the immigration issue is a hot potato.
“Migration was a factor that favored the British vote to leave the European Union. Nigel Farage, one of the architects of ‘Brexit’, called on the lack of EU governance on this issue”.
“In addition, the British are afraid of the massive influx of irregular migrants. This generates xenophobia and favors far-right parties”.
A very complicated reality
Events like the ones that just happened are not uncommon. It is true that this accident is the worst of its kind in the recent history of the English Channel, but shipwrecks are a daily bread.
“This has happened for decades in Europe and, within the continent, the issue is discussed every day because, precisely, the migratory pressure is very strong. Only when there are deceased does this become news in the world”, Says Tucci.
The migration crisis will only be aggravated by the precarious living conditions of many people and the tensions in different countries.
“There is a close relationship between international crises and this migration. Another issue to consider is climate change, which has caused the desertification of certain places.”.
“In the African case, for example, there is a very strong irregular migratory pressure because hunger is fleeing. If you check the origin of these migrants, you will realize that they depart from countries that are not theoretically dictatorships”.
One example, says Tucci, is Nigeria.
If a failed state is added to the equation, one must also think about political persecution.
The solution would pass, says the specialist, in two ways. The first would be that the countries that make up the European Union decide to collaborate and establish ways to manage irregular migration.
The second is to combat the root problem, that is, to help solve the crises that force people to migrate under these conditions.
“There is a lack of true cooperation, solidarity, active policies. Solutions should be sought to the crises in the countries of origin, that is, to solve the causes that generate the flow or, at least, make the attempt”.
“But there is no political will”.
They are ‘weapons’ to blackmail
Why? Tucci notes that not all countries agree to receive migrants or to establish quotas and distribute them.
“The countries of the Visegrad Group are the ones that most resist this type of reception policies”.
And in the middle of this, there are decisions that create more problems.
“In 2017, the European Union signed an agreement with Turkey to create refugee camps. These are practically barriers so that, for example, Syrians cannot enter Europe”.
“And now, when Turkey is questioned about its not-so-democratic internal policies, President Erdogan may threaten to open the flow pipe. The situation is terrible because migrants are used as weapons to blackmail other states”.
In the midst of all this, it seems that, at last, something concrete will be done. The EFE agency has reported that the French government summoned the interior ministers from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
The idea it is “define ways to strengthen police, judicial and humanitarian cooperation to better combat the networks of smugglers involved in migratory flows”.