France and Britain signed on Thursday a new agreement, the “Sandhurst Treaty,” which de facto replaces the Touquet agreements of 2003 that had established the British border at Calais and allowed the British police to operate in France.
With the new agreement signed by the Ministers of the Interior of the two countries, London agreed to raise its contribution to improve “border security” by €50 million, in addition to the €140 million spent over the past three years, while the border will remain on French soil.
This comes as the result of the first official visit of President Emmanuel Macron to Britain, for the 35th bilateral summit, which was held Thursday at the military academy in Sandhurst.
With the new treaty, there will be greater cooperation between the two countries, and the management of the border will not be entirely the province of France.
British Prime Minister Theresa May committed, in particular, to examining more closely the case of unaccompanied minors, intending to reach members of their family who reside in the U.K.
There will be “a more humane approach,” Macron said, as well as a more efficient one, starting with the reduction of the time needed for assessing the situation of particular refugees.
At the time of the dismantling of the ”Calais jungle” two years ago, London had committed to accommodating 3,000 young migrants. In reality, they have accepted much fewer (officially, the British Home Office gives the number of minor refugees received as 769). In addition, the French would like the U.K. to contribute financially to the economic recovery of the Calais region.
Macron arrived at the bilateral summit bearing a remarkable gift: France will lend Britain the Telle du Conquest, also known as the “tapestry of Queen Mathilde,” a medieval masterpiece preserved at the Musée de la Tapisserie in Bayeux, Normandy, an embroidered cloth 70 meters long and weighing 350 kg, which illustrates the conquest of Britain by William, Duke of Normandy, who became king of England and was crowned at Westminster in 1066.
After a planned restoration, the tapestry will be loaned to Britain, probably to the British Museum in 2020. It was a sly choice of gift on Macron’s part, as it tells the story of the successful attempt to conquer Britain by the French (just like it was no coincidence that the British used to make the Eurostar train from Paris stop at Waterloo Station, before they finally moved it to Saint-Pancras).
Macron and May signed an agreement that is, in effect, a new treaty for immigration control. Macron managed to extract more funding from a May government weakened by Brexit.
The British tried to downplay the issue of immigration, highlighting the strengthening of the agreements with France on defense.
London’s goal is to break the isolation caused by Brexit by developing military agreements with France (as these two E.U. countries are nuclear powers and have permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council).
In concrete terms, Britain will send three helicopters to the Sahel, in support of French Operation Barkhane, while France will send soldiers to Estonia, to accompany the British forces engaged in a NATO operation of deterrence, aimed at Russia.
Furthermore, the two countries will develop a combat drone together.
In addition, the Macron-May talks were preceded by a coordination meeting of the intelligence services of the two countries, which are intent on deepening their ties in the fight against terrorism, according to the plan they signed last June. Macron underlined that the Franco-British agreement will continue despite Brexit, about which, as everyone knows, he is regretful.
Further agreements were also signed regarding civil nuclear power, space research, medical research and sports.
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