Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) French President Emmanuel Macron is to host a meeting with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to strengthen military cooperation and discuss open issues.
Sunak is hoping to take advantage of renewed goodwill with Macron, also a former investment banker, to iron out disagreements over issues including fishing and migration, according to a Reuters report on Friday.
“The partnership the UK and France share runs deep,” Sunak noted ahead of the meeting and added, “from tackling illegal migration to driving growth in our economies to defending our common security when we work together we all benefit.”
The meeting comes as EU-UK relations have improved, with the two sides recently agreeing on the Windsor Framework to address issues with trade in Northern Ireland that arose in the wake of Brexit.
The UK wants to improve cooperation in the fight against illegal migration and curb the number of migrants who attempt to cross the Channel.
The two countries signed a deal worth 72 million euros in November last year to step up border control and tackle the influx of illegal migrants.
James Cleverly, UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Affairs, noted that the UK will discuss plans to give more money to France to invest in intelligence, police, and security.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) criticized the UK and France for their failed border control, accusing them of “relentless intimidation, violence and degrading treatment” of illegal migrants. The NGO added that illegal migrants are trying to cross the Channel “to find refuge in the UK.”
The UK presented draft rules on Tuesday that would prevent illegal migrants from applying for asylum, which some NGOs warned could criminalize the efforts of refugees.
French officials noted that UK’s proposed rules would not have a major effect on the French coast, reminding that the two countries do not have an agreement on the readmission of illegal migrants to France.
“It’s not as if we had a legal instrument since Brexit that helped us regulate the flow of migrants between the two coasts,” one French official pointed out.
According to Paris advisers, France wants to strengthen defense cooperation with the UK and make their fighter jet programs compatible.