The Sandhurst Accords: too little too late?

France and the United Kingdom have agreed on a joint text at the famous British military school of Sandhurst. These agreements provide for a € 51 million British financial contribution to France to help President Macron reinforce the security of Calais – a city that frequently makes the headlines around the world – due to the concentration of migrants from the Middle East and Africa who are waiting for the right opportunity to enter the UK illegally.

The Jungle was characterized by indecent living conditions, and a population that reached more than 9000 people in August 2016. Many human rights organizations have blamed France for its management of this unprecedented phenomenon.

What does FYI France think about British financial aid and the Calais crisis as a whole?

We think first of all that this financial aid comes late. The United Kingdom is going through an unprecedented crisis, but that is no reason to rely on the goodwill, or worse, on the even credulity of its neighbors. Not only has the British behavior so far been terribly selfish, it has also created a real danger in France prior to the French presidential elections.

One must not be so naive as to believe that the French did not hear the complaints of British populists such as Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson during the Brexit campaign. The ‘Brexiters’ campaigned for an exit from the union while explaining that Europe meant the migrants (a false and low-level argument supported by huge signs showing refugees walking along European roads), and in the meantime, migrants were gathering sadly and alarmingly on the French Northern coast. This crisis in France has, moreover, helped the National Front, which has used the situation extensively during the presidential campaign of Marine Le Pen, who never hesitated, of course, to exaggerate outrageously the real statistics. The British will therefore give us 51 million euros to deal with a problem that is as much ours as theirs, and that could have been the perfect springboard to put the far right in power.

Finally, the Calais crisis puts any government, even the most humanist, in a terribly delicate situation. Either judged lax or considered too harsh, there is unfortunately no middle ground in this situation. The government must absolutely end this crisis for many reasons. The first is that the inhabitants of Calais must return to a normal rhythm of life, the second is that of all evidence, with the security increase in Calais, the remaining migrants have no chance to cross the channel – it is therefore the government’s duty to take firm action.

Clearly, these people risked everything, and some even lost members of their families, or friends, on the perilous road to Calais. Not to mention the abusive and sometimes shameful behavior of some law enforcement officers vis-à-vis the migrants, no matter how we handle this difficult task, telling them « no » will seem inhuman, and actually will be in many respects. However, the government has no choice – it must act.

In conclusion, perhaps it would be time to remind the countries of the Union that Europe is supposed to be a united group that solves the problems it faces in solidarity. This crisis is not only a French or a British crisis, it is a European crisis, and if everyone held his part of the bargain, then we would not be here.

FYI France


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