Macron urges Britain to ease asylum measures, keep promises

Dec 9, 2021, 11:41 AM | Updated: 12:07 pm
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a press conference on France assuming EU ...

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a press conference on France assuming EU presidency, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021. French President Emmanuel Macron presents the priorities for France's upcoming presidency of the European Union, a tenure that overlaps with the country's presidential election and could put Macron in a tricky position if he campaigns for reelection. Macron is expected to run in April's two-round election, and France's turn in the European Council's rotating six-month presidency starts Jan. 1. 2022. (Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP)

(Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron urged Britain on Thursday to make it easier for people to apply for asylum and harder to work illegally, to stem risky migration efforts across the English Channel after a recent deadly sinking.

Macron also accused the British government of reneging on promises over fishing licenses and of betraying French-British friendship by signing a secret submarine deal with the U.S. and Australia that sank a rival French contract.

The British government “doesn’t do what it says,” Macron told a news conference.

The two countries “need to work together in good faith,” notably on migration, he said.

Thousands of migrants have departed from the French coast in recent months in small inflatable boats to try to reach Britain.

“Why are these women and men in these terrible conditions? Because they don’t want asylum in France,” Macron said.

He urged Britain to create clearer paths to asylum to deter people from making the dangerous crossing. He also said some migrants are attracted by a British economic model that “depends on illegal work by foreigners.”

Britain and France accuse each other of not doing enough to prevent the deaths of at least 27 migrants whose boat sank last month off the coast of Calais.

Macron also said that France will decide with European Commission on Friday on the next steps in France’s fishing dispute with Britain. French fishermen are angry at the British government for not granting more licenses to fish in U.K. waters after Brexit. The fishing industry is economically tiny but symbolically important for both Britain and France.

“I like Great Britain. I like its people,” Macron said. “I want terribly to have a government that wants to work simply in good faith.”

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Macron urges Britain to ease asylum measures, keep promises