French authorities claim that the UK isn’t sufficiently coordinating with France to reduce the number of migrants crossing the English Channel, despite the British government reporting that the number of migrants crossing in 2023 dropped by more than a third, the Associated Press reported.
A French report released in late December cited the “uncertain effectiveness” of policies on illegal migration and said the country has struggled to “develop operational cooperation arrangements” with the United Kingdom.
The report from the French Court of Accounts, which is in charge of auditing public funds, singles out the joint intelligence unit created by France and the UK in 2020 to combat human smuggling and reduce the number of migrants crossing the Channel.
The Court of Accounts found that the UK has not provided “usable information on the departures of small boats,” offering instead only “very general, first-level information” that has not been verified.
Relevant information, like the nationalities of migrants and the circumstances in which they arrive “appears to be very patch,” according to the report. This has resulted in an “unbalanced” exchange of intelligence and information between France and the UK.
However, the UK Home Office rejected the claims of the Court of Accounts, saying on December 28 that the report relied on “out-of-date information” that failed to “accurately reflect” the UK’s “current working relationship” with France, including its current intelligence sharing.
According to the Home Office, in 2022 and 2023, the UK had taken “more robust action” in conjunction with France to crack down on human smuggling and stop migrant boats from crossing the Channel.
The UK Ministry of Defense estimated that between 2021 and 2022, the number of migrant boats crossing the English Channel increased by roughly 58 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of crossing attempts that were prevented in that period was 56 percent.
The UK announced last week that the number of migrants crossing the Channel in 2023 dropped by 36 percent compared to 2022, to just over 29,000 people. However, whether this was due to weather conditions or government actions remains unclear.