Channel deaths: Macron and Johnson not talking

France and Britain are still unable to agree on how to prevent migrant deaths in the English Channel. A meeting of interior ministers was cancelled by Macron after Johnson posted a Twitter message calling on France to take back all migrants. The situation has escalated after the drowning of 27 migrants in the English Channel last week.

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Berlingske (DK) /

Not what assuming responsibility looks like

Berlingske says both heads of government are behaving childishly:

“This task must be solved jointly by France and the United Kingdom. That's why it was disappointing that French President Emmanuel Macron responded to Boris Johnson's tweet with childish defiance, withdrawing an invitation to the British to meet and discuss the English Channel refugee crisis on the weekend. Responsible management is now needed - also to lead the larger debate about why European asylum systems continue to create favorable conditions for human traffickers who can make money from the plight of others.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Hypocrisy on all sides

In a joint appeal in Le Monde, more than 200 academics working on migration issues call on the EU states and Britain to shoulder responsibility:

“In the face of these tragedies, it is urgent that the EU and the European states, including the UK, acknowledge their responsibility and radically change course: for us it is neither conceivable nor acceptable that the institutions remain stubborn and continue to treat migrants like criminals, only to hypocritically lament deaths for which their security measures are partly to blame.”

Kristeligt Dagblad (DK) /

EU shifting its priorities

The distribution of refugees among EU states is no longer the most pressing problem for the member states, Kristeligt Dagblad suspects:

“Many countries want the EU to improve its border protection. And if in most cases there is no real possibility to send back people who have been denied residency after a democratic process, then it's not surprising that Europeans have become less willing to invite them to apply for asylum in the first place. European countries have tried to fix this system - without success. This is precisely why the Danish government's idea of processing applications outside Europe has a future.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Nothing but xenophobic rhetoric

The British government is just trying to score points on the domestic front instead of seeking concrete solutions, says The Guardian:

“Unfortunately, Mr Johnson and his home secretary, Priti Patel, reveal no desire to drop the xenophobic rhetoric. ... Condemnations of traffickers appear more and more mindless the longer they are unaccompanied by meaningful action, such as an honest discussion about the safe and legal routes to the UK that would reduce demand for dangerous crossings. Ms Patel's demand for British 'boots on the ground' in France seems designed to inflame. Once again, the Home Office is at the heart of an ugly spectacle.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Time to renegotiate responsibility

Since the 2003 Treaty of Le Touquet, British border controls have been carried out at the port of Calais in France, making it easier for the UK to turn away asylum seekers. This must change, Le Monde demands:

“At the heart of the matter is not the smugglers, but the sharing of asylum seekers between the EU - France in particular - and the UK. Emmanuel Macron, who as minister had threatened to cancel the Le Touquet agreement, must use this leverage to persuade the British to negotiate. Together, they must determine how and according to which criteria asylum applications are examined at the border. The EU must support these moves if it wants to get out of the absurd situation of migrants being prevented from leaving EU soil in Calais.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

No sign of partnership

To prevent the English Channel from becoming the next mass grave, Paris and London must work together, comments the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

“It's part of the image that relations between France and the UK are not the best at the moment. There are arguments about everything from fishing to big politics. The spirit of partnership has evaporated since Brexit. The lines concerning relations with London in the coalition agreement of the 'traffic light' parties sound dry, almost resigned. Partnership is invoked, but what exactly is the hoped-for common ground? The British and French could find what they are looking for on the Channel coast: saving lives, getting the situation under control.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Talk of stream of refugees unfounded

There are far fewer asylum seekers in the UK than in other major European states, The Irish Times points out:

“Like Ireland, Britain accepts that it must share in the protection of victims of war and persecution. ... And, contrary to public perceptions, the number of asylum applications received by the UK [around 31,000 by June 2021] remains well below other European countries. In the year to June, Germany received 113,625 applications and France, 87,180. UK politicians are reluctant to acknowledge that reality, still haunted by a Brexit debate which had much to do with misguided perceptions of mass immigration.”