Sarkozy promises to move Calais ‘Jungle’ across the Channel

The UK has refused to grant asylum to residents of the "Jungle", fearing it will encourage others to make the journey to northern France. [malachybrowne/Flickr]

Nicolas Sarkozy, the Republican frontrunner for the 2017 French presidential election, told la Voix du Nord that he wants to create a “hotspot” in the UK for migrants hoping to cross the channel. EURACTIV France reports.

“As most foreigners come to Calais to try and reach Great Britain, I want our British friends to start dealing with requests for asylum in the UK in a closed centre on their own territory, and to take responsibility for returning those whose requests are rejected,” he told the regional newspaper on Monday (5 September).

The former French president suggested that “teams of French and British police and customs officers” should carry out preliminary checks on migrants in France, so their asylum applications can be processed as quickly as possible.

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“These teams will decide if each application should be processed at the closed centre that will be created in the UK, in which case the migrant will immediately be sent to this centre, or if it should be examined in a centre in France,” Sarkozy said.

For the right wing politician, this procedure is the only way to dismantle the Calais “Jungle”, France’s biggest slum, which sources say is currently home to up to 9,000 refugees. He hopes that closing the camp would “stop the future influx”.

Sarkozy also took a firm stance on asylum criteria. “We cannot continue to be one of the only countries in Europe that does not send rejected asylum applicants back to Afghanistan, Sudan and Eritrea,” he said.

If re-elected, Sarkozy plans to lay the foundations of “a new migration policy”, which would include reinstating border controls. He also said he would suspend the right to family reunification “until we have the Schengen 2 deal we have been asking for”, and abolish state medical aid for refugees.

The ex-president, who signed the Touquet agreements in 2003, under which the UK border was established on French soil, also announced his intention to go to London “the day after” his re-election “to negotiate the conditions of a new Touquet agreement”.

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