UK and EU to share intelligence on gangs trafficking migrants in new deal

By Thomson Reuters Feb 22, 2024 | 6:04 PM

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will gain access to the EU’s intelligence on criminal gangs involved in human trafficking as part of a deal with the bloc’s border protection agency, Frontex, in another sign of closer cooperation between the two sides after Brexit.

The deal between Britain and the European Union will allow both sides to more easily exchange information and tactics, train officials and collaborate on new technologies to prevent illegal migration, the British government said.

British and EU officials will formally sign an agreement in London on Friday.

“Organised immigration crime and people smuggling are global challenges that require shared solutions and ambitions,” said British Home Secretary James Cleverly.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made stopping the arrival of small boats carrying asylum seekers from France one of his five top priorities, and hopes a fall in arrivals might help his Conservative Party, trailing in opinion polls, pull off a surprise win at a general election expected later this year.

While Britain has reached bilateral agreements – including a recent deal with Albania to disrupt people-smuggling gangs and tackle illegal migration – it no longer has returns agreements with the EU since it left the bloc in 2020.

A spokesman for the Home Office said Britain will not pay any money to the EU as part of the agreement, and that the new deal does not include any returns agreement.

The deal is the latest move by Sunak to improve relations between Britain and the EU.

Britain last year said it would rejoin the European Union’s flagship Horizon science research programme, ending a two-year post-Brexit standoff with the EU over science funding.

The two sides also reached a deal last year on Northern Ireland’s trading arrangements.

(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Sachin Ravikumar)