21st Mar 2018

Calais mayor says UK border deal must be part of Brexit talks

  • Empty tear gas canisters adorn a barber shop window in the Jungle (Photo: Nikolaj Nielsen)

The mayor of the French port city Calais has demanded that a 2003 border deal between France and the UK allowing both sides to carry out immigration checks on each other's territory be renegotiated as part of Brexit talks.

Natacha Bouchart told this website on Wednesday (13 July) that the UK's decision to leave the EU has created an opportunity to shift the burden of thousands of migrants living in a camp around Calais on to the British authorities.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"What I am asking is to take advantage of UK's EU exit vote," she said.

Calais is one of the more visible flash points in a migration crisis that has gripped Europe in recent years.

People seeking international protection, along with refugees and other migrants, have amassed around the port city in an unofficial camp in their final desperate effort to reach the UK.

Local authorities say some 4,000 people remain in the camp, known as the Jungle. NGOs put the figure closer to 6,000. Many are from Afghanistan, Sudan and Eritrea.

More permanent structures have been erected since April 2015 but conditions remain dire.

In May, riots broke out at the camp's food distribution point.

A resident from Afghanistan, 32-year-old Safraz Nawaz, says the place is becoming increasingly dangerous.

"Fights break out a lot, it's dangerous here," he says.

One barber shop in the Jungle is adorned with spent tear gas canisters.

Patrick Visser-Bourdon, Calais' police commissioner, said they had fired thousands of rounds over the years.

"Not one person has been hurt and we've had no complaints," he told this website.

Le Touquet

Bouchart, from the Republicans party of Nicolas Sarkozy, plans to raze the northern zone of the camp in Calais and wants a refugee camp on the English side of the channel.

And she argues that the 2003 border agreement with the UK, known as Le Touquet, be renegotiated during the Brexit talks.

The 2003 Touquet pact grants British officers the right to carry out border controls in Calais. It means Britain's border effectively extends into France.

"I think a refugee centre should be opened in England and that we should review the conditions of the border accord," she said.

French economy minister Emmanuel Macron had earlier this year threatened to scrap the bilateral agreement.

“The day this relationship unravels, migrants will no longer be in Calais,” he told the Financial Times.

French presidential centre-right frontrunner Alain Juppe last week made similar comments to the newspaper.

“We must move the border back to where it belongs,” he said.

An article in the treaty allows the UK or France the option to terminate it at any moment.

Money and borders

Bouchart also said she wanted compensation for losses accrued over the years in her town of some 75,000 residents.

The mayor didn't cite a figure, but last year she was quoted as saying the UK should pay at least €50 million. She said at the time that Calais' image has suffered and tourism dropped.

Italian centre-left MEP Cecile Kyenge, who was among a parliamentary delegation in Calais, said Bouchart's demand for money was counter-productive.

"If an administration is unable [to perform] and says it is the fault of others, I would ask them to resign," she said.

Kyenge said those who govern would be better off "to transform a crisis into something positive".

Ana Gomes, a centre-left MEP from Portugal, was also critical.

"She [Bouchart] complained a lot about not having any state intervention support, which is not true," said Gomes.

"The mayor is on the complaining side, doing the very minimum, which is to make land available."

Sarkozy campaign targets Calais migrants

People seeking international protection in the so-called Jungle in Calais in northern France should be moved to the UK, said French presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy.

Macron eyes France-UK border agreement

French president Macron wants the UK to take in more refugees as he revisits the 2003 Le Touquet agreement, which allows British border controls to take place inside French territory.

Migrant camp evacuated in Paris

Police on Friday morning began removing some 3,000 migrants from the French capital, one week after a similar operation in Calais.

EU billions had 'limited' effect in Turkey, audit finds

The EU got "limited" effect for the €9bn it spent trying to modernise Turkey in recent years, auditors have said. Turkey has been "backsliding" on reforms since 2013 due to "lack of political will", the European Court of Auditors found.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders expected to approve Brexit future talks guidelines
  2. Tusk: EU must 'continue to engage' with US on trade
  3. European elections set for 23-26 May 2019
  4. EU tries to find common candidate for top UN food job
  5. Facebook post triggers Norway no-confidence vote
  6. Merkel: 'no reason' to sanction Schroeder for Russia support
  7. MEPs and Council strike deal on posted workers' rights
  8. EU parliament to investigate Facebook data 'breach'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverHiring - Sales Associate With 2+ Years Experience - Apply Now!
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  2. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  3. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework
  4. Mission of China to the EUDigital Cooperation a Priority for China-EU Relations
  5. ECTACompetition must prevail in the quest for telecoms investment
  6. European Friends of ArmeniaTaking Stock of 30 Years of EU Policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: How Can the EU Contribute to Peace?
  7. ILGA EuropeCongratulations Finland!
  8. UNICEFCyclone Season Looms Over 720,000 Rohingya Children in Myanmar & Bangladesh
  9. European Gaming & Betting AssociationEU Court: EU Commission Correct to Issue Guidelines for Online Gambling Services
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina Hopes for More Exchanges With Nordic, Baltic Countries
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementCondemns Facebook for Actively Promoting Anti-Macedonian Racism
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal Seed Vault: Gene Banks Gather to Celebrate 1 Million Seed Collections