Paris, March 23, 2010
On Tuesday, 23 March 2010, Eric Besson, Minister for Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Mutually-Supportive Development, and Phil Woolas, British Minister of State for Borders and Immigration, opened the Franco-British Joint Operational Coordination Centre [JOCC] in the port of Calais.
At the Evian summit of 6 July 2009, France and the United Kingdom had decided to create the centre as part of their efforts to strengthen their common border and combat illegal migration right along the Channel and North Sea coasts. The creation of this centre is an essential milestone in strengthening all the crossing points on our common border against the trafficking of migrants and illicit goods. This structure now centralizes all the control operations carried out on 6,000 heavy goods vehicles daily passing through the port of Calais. It will allow more accurate surveillance targeting and real-time intervention at the main points where illegals sneak on to lorries, based on information gathered from the drivers.
Thanks to the joint action conducted by France and the United Kingdom against illegal immigration there has already been a huge fall in migratory pressure on the Opal Coast [which runs along the Channel to the North Sea].
Six months after the “jungle” was dismantled, the Calais area is no longer a platform for international trafficking of migrants. With only 75 attempts to board lorries illegally in the port of Calais during the first two weeks of March, compared with 1,452 in September 2009, the activity of the Mafia networks has been reduced tenfold. There are no more than 150-200 undocumented foreigners on the French Channel and North Sea coasts, compared with 1,000 a few months ago.
To consolidate these results for the long term, Eric Besson and Phil Woolas have decided on some new measures:
discussions will be opened a soon as possible with a view to the exchange of the personal data necessary for identifying and dismantling the networks. France and the United Kingdom will propose to Belgium and the Netherlands that they join in this initiative as part of a regional approach covering the whole of the European Channel and North Sea coasts.
a campaign will be conducted in Afghanistan to inform people of the risks of illegal immigration and put an end to the disinformation put out by traffickers in order to exploit and extort money from would-be emigrants.
France and the United Kingdom will also cooperate on dismantling the international rings at their source, through partnerships with the countries of origin./.