The Freight Transport Association FTA welcomes news that the UK and France have pledged to work together to combat illegal immigration into the UK. However, the leading trade body is wary of the lack of commitment that French authorities have previously shown in preventing economic migrants from entering the UK as stowaways.
At an official Anglo rench summit, the UK government agreed to invest GBP 15m of taxpayers’ money into new technology to search vehicles at French ports heading for Britain. This sizeable commitment will be met with a concerted effort by French authorities to return illegal immigrants to their home countries.
Don Armour, FTAs Head of International Services, said
Historically, the French authorities have lacked the will to prevent illegal immigrants at their borders from crossing the Channel and becoming a UK problem. We hope this new concord between the UK and France will usher in an era of working together, protecting the UK’s international lorry drivers from stowaways.
Given the increasing severity of attacks on lorry drivers orchestrated by human traffickers near known problem areas such as Sangatte, calls for a more Europe wide approach to tackle the problem of illegal immigration have become more urgent.
"FTA advocates a joined-up approach to solving the problem of illegal immigration into northern Europe, with greater liaison and intelligence sharing between the UK Borders Agency and Immigration Service on the one hand and the French authorities on the other. There is also just cause for the European Commission to become much more involved than it currently is."
Criminal gangs are becoming increasingly technologically savvy and the fund that has been set aside by the UK government will allow enforcement officers in France to keep one step ahead of the human traffickers in the scanning war.
"For the purposes of protecting our drivers and businesses the UK borders should begin at the other side of the Channel – we cannot afford to continue taking on other country’s responsibilities. Tighter border controls are needed, if only to protect UK lorry drivers from being fined for unknowingly carrying stowaways.
"FTA is actively engaged in working with the UK Immigration Service to achieve just this. But by working together with our continental equivalents we can develop much more meaningful answers to illegal immigration."