24 Oct 2016, 21 mins ago

It is widely known that there are thousands of migrants seeking to travel to the UK in the northern French port town of Calais. In an attempt either to highlight the issue or to use it for personal political gain, certain politicians and public officials have attracted different levels of publicity since the problem compounded more than a year ago. The current regime of immigration control, which has the distinctive feature of British officials performing their duties on French soil and vice versa, formed the basis of the Le Touquet treaty that was signed between the two countries back in 2003. Since the situation with migrants aiming to reach British shores deteriorated last summer, the number of calls to either review or cancel the current arrangement has been on the rise. This time some local officials in France, who have no power to influence directly such a treaty, have raised their concerns over ever-worrying situation in so called Jungle camp which is located in the eastern part of the town, and which has dramatically increased in its size and population since the migrant crisis erupted across Europe more than a year ago.

The Home Office policy as to dealing with asylum claims and the attitude towards asylum seekers during Theresa May’s tenure as the Home Secretary had been strict and unscrupulous, directed at staving off the involvement of Britain in bearing the brunt of the migrant crisis. Amid calls to take on more migrants so as to ease the crisis, the British government sought to discourage people from embarking on perilous journeys across the European continent, and then across the Channel, by way of introducing quotes of migrants that are to be fulfilled with a number of underage migrants taken directly from the Middle East, as opposed to taking people from the French border with Britain.

There has hardly been any change in policy on migration since the current Home Secretary Amber Rudd was appointed to the post in July. The issue of the ongoing crisis was highlighted earlier this week yet again, during her visit to France, when there was a suggestion, made by a senior local official, that there should be a regime in place allowing British asylum claims to be processed in France. This was dismissed by the Home Office as a “complete non-starter.” With the previous benchmark to reduce net migration to “tens of thousands” being reaffirmed by newly elected Prime Minister (ex-Home Secretary) back in July, it is unlikely that we will see the government objectives changing dramatically over this. However, there have been increasing calls, made by people seeking to run or otherwise participate in the upcoming French presidential elections, for the current regime to be reviewed or cancelled altogether, citing the necessity to do something about the crisis which has ensued.

It is hard to understand how any prospective regime, if one is to be put in place, would operate within the current Dublin system that is already in use to determine which state is to be responsible for handling a particular asylum case. Both the Dublin III Regulation and the EURODAC Regulation form part of the current Dublin system that is designed both to determine a Member State responsible for a claim and to prevent an asylum seeker from claiming asylum in multiple Member States. Whereas the Dublin III Regulation provides for the system to be in place to allocate responsibility for an asylum seeker to a Member State, the EURODAC Regulation is a shared database of fingerprints to ensure that a person is prevented from lodging multiple claims in different Member States posing as a different person each time. It appears that if there were to be a regime implemented in France that purports to process British asylum claims, that would likely be at odds with the current Dublin Regulation, as it would implicitly mean that an asylum could be claimed in a Member State other than the one that was the point of entry for a seeker.

It remains to be seen how the situation will develop. It would appear, though, that the French side will be aiming for a change in the current regime of immigration control between France and Britain, if there is to be a change within the French political leadership.