UK to sign new small boats deal with EU in bid to stop migrants from crossing Channel

23 February 2024, 00:22

The UK and EU are set to sign a new agreement to stop small boats crossing the Channel
The UK and EU are set to sign a new agreement to stop small boats crossing the Channel. Picture: Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

The UK and the EU will sign a new deal to stop small boats from crossing the English Channel, it has been announced.

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The deal means UK Border Force and the EU's Frontext agency will co-operate more closely with its European counterparts.

This includes exchanging intelligence, as well as collaborating on training, new technology and operations.

It comes as the Home Secretary James Cleverly prepares to welcome European home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson to London on Friday to witness the signing of the arrangement by officials from Frontex and Border Force.

Home Secretary James Cleverly
Home Secretary James Cleverly. Picture: Getty

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

James Cleverly 'completely committed' to no small boat crossings this year

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 in the two countries.

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

Read More: Albanian TikTok influencers to be paid thousands to warn migrants against crossing Channel in small boats

Read More: Government aiming for no small boat crossings at all in 2024 after big reduction last year, James Cleverly says

Rishi Sunak had a phone call with Ms Von der Leyen on Sunday and the pair welcomed the conclusion of the negotiations that led to the agreement formalised on Friday.

Matt Frei caller has a plan to 'stop the boats'

Mr Sunak 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.

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