EU concern over UK proposal to crack down on migrant boat arrivals

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By Euronews
European Commission building in Brussels
European Commission building in Brussels   -  Copyright  PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP

European interior ministers meeting in Brussels on Thursday have urged the UK to ensure the government's new proposal to clamp down on illegal immigration complies with international law. 

The policy proposed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would ban migrants who enter Britain illegally from ever claiming asylum in the country. The law is aimed explicitly at migrants who reach Britain after crossing the Channel in small boats leaving from France.

The EU's Home Affairs Commissioner, Ylva Johansson, has already voiced her concern to her British counterpart.

"My immediate reaction is, I question whether this is in line with international obligations, she promised me it is, so let's hope she's right about it, we have to examine it a little bit further."

France, which works closely with the UK on the issue, is also wary of the proposal.

"Obviously there must be no negative consequences on our bilateral relationship”, said the French Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin. “But I am sure that in a very constructive way, we will be able to find the ways and means of the consequences of their legislation."

However, the British plan found some sympathy from the Austrian government.

According to the Austrian Interior Minister, Gerhard Karner, "The discussion in Great Britain shows that the pressure on Europe is increasing in here terms of illegal migration and asylum abuse. In Europe, we have to control and concentrate on our issues."

The new immigration plans come ahead of a meeting between UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday,  the first Anglo-French summit since 2018. 

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