Kirkhope writes to Commission urging action over Calais chaos

28-Jul-2015 @ 11:0

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Dear Vice-President Timmermans,

For many weeks now an important trans-European travel route from the UK to mainland Europe has been repeatedly blocked sometimes as a result of militant French trade unions, but mostly because of the trespassing and even tragic deaths of migrants desperate to leave Calais and enter the United Kingdom via the Channel Tunnel.

The situation in Calais has become unsustainable and it is time the French government stepped in to take responsibility for processing the migrants that have set up camp close to the entrance to the tunnel and now live in substandard conditions. Instead, the French government is taking action to make the camp a permanent feature. A camp is not a long term solution to anything.

The French government is working in cooperation with the British government to set up a safe zone for hauliers, but the Elysee Palace is failing to take sufficient measures to tackle the root of the crisis. This is not fair to anybody: travellers, hauliers or the migrants themselves.

They deserve their right to have an asylum application heard, whether in France or in the first safe country they arrive such as Italy. Countries that are demanding solidarity of others are failing to display responsibility themselves. Their responsibility is to process migrants arriving on their shores and determine the strength and validity of their case. If migrants do not meet the appropriate criteria then sadly they should be deported.

We await proposals from the commission to clarify a workable and effective returns policy for failed asylum seekers.

France is failing in its responsibility under the treaties to ensure the uninhibited passage of people across the EU, and to ensure basic humanitarian standards for migrants living in their country. The Mayor of Calais - with limited powers and resources - cannot resolve this problem alone. Therefore the time has come for the European Commission to step in and demand France ask for assistance from the commission, including
from the European Asylum Support Office.

Enough is enough. One of the benefits British people see in their EU membership is the ability to drive through mainland Europe without hinderance or substantial delay. It is time for the European Commission to start putting pressure on the French government. France must take action that is appropriate for the scale of the crisis on its border.

Yours sincerely,

Timothy Kirkhope MEP,
Conservative Justice and Home Affairs spokesman in the European Parliament

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