French President Emmanuel Macron (right) and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at a news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris on March 10, 2023.
Paris – Britain will provide France with 480 million pounds (about 12.8 billion crowns) over the next three years for help in suppressing illegal migration, specifically reducing the number of small boats with migrants crossing the English Channel. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed on this in Paris; among other things, the leaders concluded agreements on partnership in the energy sector. Britain and France are seeking to deepen mutual relations after diplomatic disagreements that arose after Britain left the European Union.
“If we are honest, we have to admit that relations between our countries have suffered in recent years…but today we have taken our cooperation to a new level,” Sunak said. Macron later responded that “it is time for a new beginning”.
British money will build a new migrant detention center in France, Britain's National Crime Agency (NCA) and its French counterpart will send agents to countries along the migration route used by smugglers, and both countries also want to step up sea patrols and upgrade surveillance technology.
Illegal migration is currently a key issue for the Conservative Sunak government, which is seeking to push through a law in Britain that would allow the department to deport people without asylum if they enter Britain illegally.
The joint meeting of the leaders of France and Britain, the only European nuclear powers and permanent members of the UN Security Council, took place today for the first time in five years, reports Reuters. In addition to migration, Sunak and Macron also discussed energy and the war in Ukraine today.
“France and Britain are working together so that people like (Russian President Vladimir) Putin can never again use energy as a weapon,” Sunak said. The leaders agreed on energy cooperation in two areas: sharing know-how in the field of renewable energy sources and establishing a working group on nuclear innovation and safety, Reuters reports. “We have a common goal, and that is to put an end to fossil fuels,” said Macron.
“However, all the cooperation we talked about today would not make sense without strengthening and connecting civil societies. We met with British and French businessmen, young British and French talents, and we also want to deepen cooperation between our athletes and, for example, museums,” Macron said at the end of his speech at the press conference.