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Brussels officials have angered their UK counterparts by “not engaging” with plans to broker a post-Brexit agreement to tackle illegal migration, a Government source said. European officials dismissed proposals put forward by Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator as “one-sided” and said the UK would instead have to reach separate agreements with member states.
David Frost raised the issue this week with EU counterpart Michel Barnier after a young man drowned trying to cross the Channel in an inflatable dinghy.
Mr Barnier has told diplomats in European capitals he wouldn’t seek a new UK-EU migration pact to replace the Dublin Regulation once the transition period expires in December.
Amid opposition from Malta, Italy and Greece, the Frenchman said the Government would have to strike “bilateral fallbacks” with individual EU states.
British officials proposed a treaty that would allow Britain to return “all third-country nationals and stateless persons” who enter the country without the correct paperwork to the EU country they had travelled from.
The Government would also have to accept undocumented migrants arriving in the EU via the UK.
UK officials presented a second draft agreement that would allow for unaccompanied minors to be reunified with their families in Britain.
But the plans were widely rejected by EU negotiators because refugees are more likely to arrive in the EU via southern Europe.
An EU diplomat said: “Member states have had a fair conversation on this but they’re not convinced, basically the proposal is one-sided.”
Emmanuel Macron’s France have urged EU states to reconsider their opposition to the British plans.
The source added: “This has basically been a UK ask. The ones who are pushing for it on our side are the French.
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“They only want it because they have a bilateral deal already with the UK and fear being on the hook for all returns.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel has urged EU countries to do more to curb the flow of migrants crossing the continent to reach Calais.
More than 4,100 people have crossed the Channel in small boats so far this year.
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A Home Office spokesman said: “The Dublin III Regulation is inflexible, rigid and is abused by both migrants and activist lawyers to frustrate the returns of those who have no right to be here.
“Whilst we are bound by Dublin for the duration of the Transition Period, the UK will be able to negotiate its own bilateral returns arrangements from the end of this year.”
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