London and Paris crack down on refugees
In reaction to attempts by thousands of refugees to enter the UK via the Channel Tunnel France's government has ordered more police to be deployed to Calais. David Cameron announced new fences and tracker dogs on the British side of the tunnel. The British Prime Minister is playing into the hands of the radical anti-asylum camp, some commentators criticise. Others say London is shifting all the responsibility for the situation onto Paris.
Cameron gives amunition to asylum opponents
Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans on Friday to reinforce the British side of the Channel Tunnel with fences and tracker dogs. The liberal daily Stuttgarter Zeitung warns that such announcements are grist to the mill of asylum opponents: "The British are instinctively trying to seal themselves off - literally, with higher fences, more police, tougher laws. The tabloid press is already demanding that the army be sent in. The politicians are also talking of an 'invasion'. This may be out of all proportion to the actual situation but it stirs the desire for collective resistance to ominous dangers. A few thousand pitiful figures transform so quickly into a national threat. Cameron's talk of 'swarms' threatening to descend on the island hardly encourages a cool assessment of the situation. It only plays into the hands of those who only want fences and segregation - and who don't give a hoot about European solidarity or any other kind of solidarity for that matter."
Paris left in the lurch with refugees
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and his British counterpart Theresa May published an announcement on Sunday stating that the fight against illegal immigration was a joint priority. But in reality Britain is shifting the responsibility onto France, the centre-left daily Le Monde criticises: "Countless bilateral agreements, many of which haven't been made public, have led to checks that should actually be carried out upon the refugees' arrival in the UK, are being carried out at French train stations and ports instead. … France has become a de facto guarantee for the British decision not to join the Schengen agreement. Oddly enough, Calais is located on the edge of this European zone. And even more paradoxically the Franco-British agreements relieve London of the obligations that arise simply from its being a member of the EU."
Britain should help, not seal itself off
Only stronger support for the EU countries who are the first to take in refugees will solve Britain's problem with illegal immigrats in the long term, warns the centre-left daily The Independent: "More fences, lights and CCTV are not the answer. Indeed, they will stoke the fires of anti-immigrant populism - and, in any case, ignore the fact that most illegal immigrants are not lorry-jumpers but those who overstay their visas. ... Instead, Britain should do more to assist frontline countries. If British civil servants were sent to assist the processing of entrants to countries such as Greece, Italy and Hungary there might be less incentive for those countries to allow migrants to journey north and west."
London and Paris have failed on refugee crisis
The restrictive measures against refugees at the Channel Tunnel only highlight the extent to which the EU has failed in dealing with the refugee crisis, criticises the liberal daily Phileleftheros: "The city of Calais has turned into a fortress: security measures at the port have been tightened and identity checks for immigrants are stringent. The bitter truth is that London and Paris have only themselves to blame for the refugee problem. Both countries have failed to deal sensibly with immigration, as has the entire European Union. True, there are no easy solutions. But as long as the 28 EU states keep passing the buck to each other, don't do their homework and refuse to seek common solutions, the problem will only get worse. No matter how much police presence is increased, people will continue to die in the search for a better life."