Spending on tackling illegal immigration from France

Spending on tackling illegal immigration from France

19 June, 2020

1. The government has paid £114 million to the French government in order to stop illegal immigration originating from that country since 2015 (Parliamentary Answer, 16 June 2020) - see par. 4 below.

2. Despite this, illegal and overt Channel crossings in small boats are at a new high, with a record 145 people coming during one 24-hour period on VE Day (8 May), and thousands having come via this unauthorised route since the start of 2020 (visit our ‘tracking station’ for regular updates).

3. Hundreds of millions of pounds were also spent by the UK on border security in France between 2010 and 2015 (see par.11 below for a 2017 FOI response).

4. In a 16 June 2020 Parliamentary Answer, the government revealed:

‘The UK and France maintain a longstanding relationship on tackling illegal migration at the shared border; since 2015 the UK has committed several funding packages to supporting this work.

  • In 2015, both countries signed a Joint Declaration which committed £10 million towards security reviews of the juxtaposed controls and to moving migrants nto reception centres across France.
  • This was followed by payments in 2016 (£17 million)
  • and 2017 (£36 million) to further strengthen the border and maintain the operation of the juxtaposed controls.
  • In January 2018 both countries signed the Sandhurst Treaty. The UK made a commitment of €50 million (£45.5m) to implement the terms of the Treaty, which adopted a “whole of route approach” to tackling illegal migration.
  • This was followed in 2019 by the signature of the Joint Action Plan on Combatting Illegal Migration Involving Small Boats. Under paragraph 11 of this plan, the UK committed €3.6m (approximately £3.25m).
  • This was supplemented with a further €2.5m (£2.25m) in the 2019/2020 Financial Year


Total spent = £114 million

5. The following question needs to be asked: ‘Are taxpayers getting value for money?’ Many of the public do not appear to think so, as 60% said not enough action was being taken to stop illegal Channel crossings, in a new Deltapoll.

6. What was the money spent on? The UK paid for new, high security fencing around the Port of Calais as part of a Joint Fund, established by Interior Minister Bernard Cazenueve and Home Secretary Theresa May, according to a joint statement published in 2014 (see Joint Declaration, 2015).

7. The money allocated in 2018 was put towards fencing, CCTV and detection technology in Calais and other Channel ports in 2018 alone (See Sandhurst Communique - par. 53). £1.1 million of this was committed and has since been spent on supporting development of reception centres for migrants in France (see Parliamentary Answer).

8. In January 2019, a portion of the unallocated Sandhurst funds mentioned above was pledged towards the cost of reinforced preventive security measures. This included ‘equipment and measures to tackle illegal migration by small boats, such as CCTV, night goggles and number-plate recognition capability’ (UK-France Joint Declaration, January 2019).

9. The money allocated during the 2019/2020 financial year was ‘dedicated to the deployment of gendarme reservists and further strengthening preventive security measures at the French coast’, according to the government.

10. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of pounds were spent by the UK on juxtaposed controls and border security between 2010/11 and 2014/15 (see 2017 FOI response). As the table below shows, and the 2017 FOI response notes, 'between 2014/15 and 2015/16, total spending in Calais and the surrounding regions increased significantly due to a combination of increased migrant pressures in Calais, new operational and technological improvements at the juxtaposed controls and improvements to infrastructure in the region.’

Total annual costs for Border Force at Calais and surrounding locations from 2010/11 to 2015/16 to secure the border