Emmanuel Macron calls on Britain to change policies to tackle migrant crossings

French president wants to discuss 'horrendous humanitarian situation' with British government

President Emmanuel Macron said there needs to be 'legal, stable' routes to be able to migrate to the UK. AFP

The French president has said that the problem of migrant crossings in the English Channel cannot be solved unless the UK changes its policies.

Speaking to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron said there needs to be “legal, stable” routes to be able to migrate to the UK and likened the British government’s current approach to that used in the 1980s.

In a speech to mark France taking over its six-month rotating presidency of the EU, he said: “Ultimately we cannot solve that problem if the way in which migratory flows are seen from the British side doesn’t change.

“Our British friends at the moment are trying to adopt an approach which is the one that prevailed at the start of the 80s, when you had a level of acceptable economic illegal migration. You allow people to work without papers because it’s helpful to the economy, but that doesn’t face the reality of migratory flows now.

“Secondly, there need to be legal, stable routes to be able to migrate to the UK and this is a situation that we’re confronted with. This is a dialogue that we need to pursue with the UK. It’s a horrendous humanitarian situation, but that’s the reality.”

His comments coincided with more people being brought ashore in Dover on Wednesday, as crossings in the first month of 2022 continue to outstrip numbers for January last year.

About two dozen people arrived at the port on board Border Force patrol boat Speedwell.

Almost 1,000 people have crossed to the UK on small boats so far this year, compared with 223 in January 2020, data compiled by the PA news agency show.

Updated: January 19, 2022, 10:54 PM