Will the UK have to fund the border at Calais after Brexit?
By Joe Harker
Brexit is still some way off, so there's plenty of time for everyone to get their issues sorted before the window of opportunity shuts and negotiations are concluded.
One particular detail is the UK's border in Calais, which is a matter that French President Emmanuel Macron would dearly like to discuss. He initially raised the issue when he was France's economy minister, suggesting that he could tear up the treaty if Britain left the EU, though he is now taking a more diplomatic approach. He said: "I want to put the Le Touquet border deal back on the table. It must be renegotiated, especially the parts that deal with the fate of isolated child migrants.
"There is no easy solution to the migrant crisis. If there was one, it would have been found."
The current deal in place is the Le Touquet treaty, established in 2003. It placed the French border in Kent and the UK border in Calais, meaning that anyone without the correct documentation cannot cross the English Channel. The treaty means that anyone trying to enter the UK from France has to go through Calais and is part of the reason why refugees and migrants gather there. It can be cancelled by either nation, though doing so initiates a two-year waiting period before the conditions of the treaty come to an end.
Macron wants the UK to contribute towards the cost of tighter border controls, as it currently does in accordance with the Le Touquet treaty. French politicians have asked him to raise the issue during January talks with the cost of Brexit on the UK - France border potentially spiraling into hundreds of millions of euros. France would like the UK and EU to share the bill. Some Brexiteers have described this as "absurd" as they do not want to pay "a penny more" than what had already been agreed.
The UK was warned about the prospect of moving the border to Dover after Brexit, with Xavier Bertrand, the President of France's northern region, making the claim before the referendum. Under the current rules any refugees and migrants that try to travel to the UK are returned to the country they entered from, meaning that most are sent back to France. Many French politicians are unhappy with the situation and Bertrand is foremost among them. If the UK does not agree to new terms then he and others may push Macron into doing away with the Le Touquet treaty. He said: "The main reason we have so many problems is because of the English. Either they change their rules, or we hand them back their border."