Thursday

21st Jan 2021

British nationals among Calais migrant smugglers

  • French police reportedly arrested up to 100 Britons for migrant smuggling last year in Calais (Photo: Jey OH photographie)

Up to three thousand stranded migrants near Calais in France are relying on people smugglers to cross over into the UK.

Last year, some 100 British nationals were arrested in France in their attempt to shuffle them across the English Channel in cars and vans, reports the BBC.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

A French deputy prosecutor on Monday (22 June) said trafficking gangs are hiring more and more British nationals to become smugglers.

"The migrants pay a lot of money because it's sold as guaranteed passage to the UK,” the prosecutor told BBC's File on 4 programme.

A French lawyer said traffickers are approaching British students with outstanding loans or struggling bar staff and shop staff who are in need of money in order to help with smuggling operations.

Calais’ mayor Natacha Bouchart, for her part, wants the French government to provoke a “diplomatic incident” with UK authorities to make them step in. She said the UK should either join the EU's border-free Schengen area or leave the EU altogether.

“I am calling for a diplomatic incident with the British government. We are forced to endure situations that are inexplicable,” she told France Info Radio on Monday.

Migrant numbers in the shantytown three kilometres north of Calais have swelled from one thousand to three thousand in the past few months.

The French government is now installing electricity, toilets, and other structures to help cope with the needs. Unaccompanied children and minors are among the population. Some are as young as 12 or 13.

The announcement comes on the heels of a EU-led military campaign against migrant smugglers in the Mediterranean Sea. The broad plan is to destroy the business model by first gathering intelligence and then seizing and possibly sinking the boats.

“We seek to change the behavior of smugglers and we will do this through very many different means,” said a senior EU diplomat.

The assault will interact with Nato, the UN’s refugee agency, the UN OCHA, European commission’s ECHO, the African Union, the League of Arab States, and the EU’s border agency Frontex.

The EU’s border police Europol, along with Frontex, and other EU agencies, will be based in Sicily.

“If Frontex debriefers collect intelligence that can be used by police and justice investigation services then it will be handed over to Europol, to Eurojust,” Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri told reporters last month.

Britain is sending six of its officers to the Europol cell in Sicily from its National Crime Agency to help disrupt the smuggling gangs.

EU leaders will be in Brussels at the end of the week to discuss broader plans by the European commission to resettle refugees and relocate asylum seekers.

A draft document seen by Italian news agency ANSA says member states will have a one month deadline to agree to a "temporary and exceptional" relocation of asylum seekers.

EU Commission mulls police access to encrypted apps

The European Commission has not ruled out allowing police access to encrypted services. Instead, it says a balance needs to be found to protect rights while at the same time offering some leeway to law enforcement.

Muscat poker-faced in Malta inquiry into journalist murder

"How well I'm screwed," was the then Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat's first thought on 16 October 2017, when he found out his country's best-known journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, had just been murdered by a car bomb.

EU law needed to protect free press, NGOs say

More than 60 NGOs and media, including EUobserver, have signed a call for an EU-wide law to stop the rich and powerful from silencing critics with malicious litigation.

News in Brief

  1. Brexit prompted finance exodus from UK to France
  2. Italian PM Conte wins confidence vote in Senate
  3. Borrell washes hands of EU's Venezuela policy
  4. Russia backs Greece in eastern Mediterranean dispute
  5. 'Ski-holiday' Switzerland reaches new infection high
  6. Germany extends lockdown, others expected to follow
  7. Barnier to be Brexit special adviser to von der Leyen
  8. EU commisioner to visit Bosnia's Lipa migrant camp

Opinion

Rule-of-law deal: major step for Europe of values

At the very moment when an incumbent president across the Atlantic was carrying out staggering attacks on the foundations of democracy, the European Parliament obtained a historic agreement to protect the rule of law in Europe.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. MEPs call to halt Russia pipeline over Navalny arrest
  2. EU targets vaccinating 70% of adults by summer
  3. Portugal pushes to start delayed 'future EU' conference
  4. EU Parliament pressing for inquiry into Frontex
  5. Untapped potential of the single market could boost European recovery
  6. Biden's 'Age of Aquarius'? Mars and Venus will clash over China
  7. The new dimension of 'ever-closer union'
  8. What do new CDU chief's pro-Russia views mean for Europe?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us