Britain increasingly isolated in the fight against migrant smuggling. France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands strengthen cooperation

Brussels, 29 Nov – Tension is high between France and Britain. It’s the day of top officials’ emergency meeting where the dinghy heading to Britain sank with 27 Iranian, Kurds, Syrians who put their lives in the hands of criminal smugglers to end drowning in icy waters off the coast of Calais. British officials weren’t there while French Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin discussed with several European ministers the urgent measures to be set up to stop smugglers and prevent refugees and asylum seekers from embarking in deadly journeys. The fight will be “even more intense” he said to several European ministers gathered this Sunday while France is conducting a national investigation on the shipwreck.

Darmanin cancelled the participation of British Home Secretary in response to a letter published Thursday evening on Twitter by Boris Johnson, asking Paris to push back the migrants arriving in Great Britain from France. In the Declaration Commune with Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and police and judiciary of the North Sea and Channel, there’s a new commitment to “countering migrants smugglers who take advantage of vulnerable migrants not only at sea and in the coast but also in the European territory and in migrants’ countries of origin”.

In Calais Town Hall also EU commissioner for Internal Affairs Ylva Johansson, and Fabrice Leggeri, director of Frontex to concretely give answers to the need to find strategies to fight international networks of migrant smugglers a specific strategy for north routes/English Channel. The EU so far put in place three specific programs to stop illegal migration trough South, East and West routes, but none to specifically stop Channel crossing, this last route sees in fact far less numbers compared to the others.

UK has the lowest number of top 5 countries in the EU+ receiving asylum applicants – ONS.

Nearly 55.000 migrants are smuggled from East, North and West Africa into Europe every year, generating around $150 million in revenue for criminals.

Reckless human traffickers aren’t easy to catch and capture. Europol set a series of strategies which led in 2020 to 2.280 arrests, the dismantling of 14 organised crime groups and the seizure of 639.900 euros in cash, 52 firearms, 1.166 counterfeit documents, 381 vehicles, 1.230 vehicle parts, meaning they steal and reassemble lorries and cars. It’s a hidden criminal chain active across illegal migration routes that needs an international coordinated action in order to be dismantled and constant collaboration between countries. With an increasing isolated UK unable to collaborate with the EU that looks a goal very hard to reach.