France Analysis

From Calais to Italy: how France has become Europe's new border guard

In return for help in making the Channel Tunnel and the port at Calais more “secure”, France has agreed to monitor Britain's borders on its behalf. On the Italian frontier, meanwhile, French police are searching for migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean. As Carine Fouteau reports, interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve has taken on the mantle of Europe's new gatekeeper, at the risk of breaching European law.

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The 1985 Schengen agreement was supposed to have removed frontiers and allowed people to move freely between European Union member states. The current migrant crisis, however, has brought these borders back, though not for everyone: only migrants themselves are affected. Having landed in Greece or Italy, the tens of thousands of exiles who have journeyed from the Horn of Africa, West Africa and the Middle East run into these barriers as they try to cross Europe. At Ventimiglia (Vintimille in French) on the Franco-Italian border and at Calais, with its port and the Channel Tunnel, these migrants suffer the direct consequences as they are obliged to live in makeshift camps while waiting for a chance to get through. Meanwhile the number of deaths increases, with at least eleven people having died trying to cross the Channel since June 1st, 2015.

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