UK to sign new EU deal in bid to curb Channel migrants

The agreement will see the UK Border Force work more closely with Europe's Frontex

Migrants are taken in to Dover, England, after being rescued from a small boat in the English Channel on January 31. PA
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The UK is set to sign a new arrangement with the EU’s border agency on Friday as part of government plans to stop migrants crossing the Channel.

The UK Border Force will co-operate more closely with the European agency, exchange intelligence and collaborate on training, new technology and operations as part of the deal agreed to with the EU’s Frontex.

European home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson will travel to London on Friday to meet Home Secretary James Cleverly and witness the signing of the arrangement by officials from Frontex and Border Force.

“This government has a plan to break the model of the smuggling gangs, end the abuse of our asylum system and stop the boats," Mr Cleverly said.

"The plan is working, with crossings down by a third – but we must go further.

“Organised immigration crime and people-smuggling are global challenges that require shared solutions and ambitions.

"Our landmark working arrangement between the UK and Frontex is another crucial step in tackling illegal migration, securing our borders and stopping the boats.”

The deal is the latest in a series of arrangements between the UK and Europe, including an agreement reached with France last year to increase co-operation between law-enforcement agencies.

It also follows discussions between Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission President, who agreed in May last year to strengthen co-operation on tackling small boats.

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Mr Sunak had a phone call with Ms von der Leyen on Sunday and the pair welcomed the end of negotiations that led to the agreement being formalised on Friday.

He made “stopping the boats” one of his five priorities for 2023. The number of people crossing the Channel in small boats last year fell from 45,755 to 29,437.

So far, 1,716 people have made the crossing this year, down from 2,720 in the same period last year.

Updated: February 23, 2024, 12:01 AM