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The BBC's Justin Webb
"The governments seem to be co-operating as closely as they can"
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Home Secretary, Jack Straw
"A major step forward in joint co-operation"
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Monday, 29 May, 2000, 18:35 GMT 19:35 UK
Anglo-French deal on asylum seekers
Eurostar is the target of immigration racketeers
Britain and France have made a formal agreement to crack down on illegal asylum seekers entering the UK by Eurostar.

It will enable British officials to patrol French stations on the lookout for illegal immigrants trying to board Channel Tunnel trains.

Jack Straw MP
Home Secretary Jack Straw: Increased co-operation
The UK Home Secretary Jack Straw was in Brussels for the signing, where he also agreed to step up cross-border co-operation with the rest of the EU to tackle crime and drugs across Europe.

Mr Straw signed up to the anti-crime arrangements under the so-called "Schengen Convention" of 1985, without giving up Britain's frontier controls.

The convention effectively removed borders between states in continental Europe, and includes systems that help police target criminals operating across the EU.

Britain has opted out of the sections which would remove frontiers, but now the UK police will benefit from Europe-wide tracking of illegal arms and stolen vehicles.

Under the Anglo-French agreement on Eurostar, British immigration officers will be allowed to vet those boarding the train in France.

In return, French officers will be able to work at Eurostar's terminals at Waterloo in London and Ashford in Kent.

The measures will increase our efforts to deter unfounded asylum seekers

Home Secretary Jack Straw
A permanent UK immigration office could be established at the Gare du Nord station in Paris, with officers also patrolling other stations where the train stops.

In recent months, the rail link under the Channel has become an increasingly popular route for people seeking a new life in the UK. Mr Straw expects the new arrangements to come into force next year.

He said: "The measures will increase our efforts to deter unfounded asylum seekers and the people who organise the illegal immigration rackets."

Britain's borders "protected"

On the cross-border crime initiative, he added: "We have been able to protect our borders while joining in measures which will enable us better to tackle cross-border crime.

"We are determined to continue to be in the forefront of European efforts to tackle crime and drugs."

Mr Straw signed a third agreement, which aims to allow police in different European states to share information.

The EU Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance will update the sometime archaic way that evidence is provided by police from other nations.

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See also:

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10 Apr 00 | Europe
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