UK, France to discuss migration, energy in first bilateral talks in 5 years
Paris, Mar 10 (EFE).- The United Kingdom’s prime minister, Rishi Sunak, arrived in Paris on Friday for a summit with French president Emmanuel Macron to discuss a range of topics but with the Channel migrant crisis high on the agenda.
The UK-France summit at the Elysée Palace is the first to be held in five years, and the leaders are expected to adopt a new pact on small boat Channel crossings, as well as agreeing to enhance defense and security partnerships amid Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, Downing Street said.
“Our deep history, our proximity and our shared global outlook mean that a firm partnership between the UK and France is not just valuable, it is essential,” Sunak said in a statement.
“From tackling the scourge of illegal migration to driving investment in one another’s economies the work we do together improves the lives of each and every person in our countries,” he added.
The visit, which comes just over two weeks ahead of King Charles II’s first state visit to France, is an attempt to thaw tensions triggered by Brexit.
The war in Ukraine has served as a catalyst for a growing rapprochement between both powers, which also boast Europe’s largest armies.
“As we face new and unprecedented threats, it is vital that we fortify the structures of our alliance so we are ready to take on the challenges of the future,” Sunak said.
In an interview with Le Figaro magazine, Sunak championed the work of French patrol boats in the English Channel and defended his controversial bill to combat migration, which he said seeks to stem organized crime operating in the region.
The British PM said the meeting would reinforce a 72.2 million euro ($76.48m) deal that was penned last year to tackle illegal crossings.
Energy security and cooperation will also be a key discussion as both nations work towards weaning themselves off Russian energy.
One of the projects in the pipeline is the construction of another nuclear power plant at the Sizewell complex on the Suffolk coast which will be led by the French state-owned EDF energy giant.
The summit comes after the EU and the UK struck a fresh post-Brexit deal over trade arrangements for Northern Ireland.
Sunak hailed the new deal, known as the Windsor Framework, as the “beginning of a new chapter” in EU-UK relations. EFE