France, UK plan armed drone, talk refugees | News | DW | 03.03.2016
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France, UK plan armed drone, talk refugees

The leaders of France and Britain are holding their first security summit in 2016 ahead of a UK referendum over leaving the EU. Topping the agenda is an armed drone project as bulldozers raze the Calais refugee camp.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande are meeting Thursday in the northern French city of Amiens as bulldozers continue to demolish the camp 135 kilometers (83 miles) away.

The prime minister's office says counter-terrorism, Europe's migration crisis and the conflicts in Syria and Libya are expected to be discussed at the summit, which the French and British foreign, interior and defense ministers will also attend.

The two leaders are also planning to announce an estimated 2 billion euro ($2.11 billion) armed drone project. That would build on a joint feasibility study undertaken after the last summit between the two countries in 2014 for the so-called "Future Combat Air System" that would include leading defense and aerospace companies BAE systems, Rolls Royce, SNECMA/Safrain and Thales.

Britain to boost Calais security funding

Demolition workers razed makeshift shelters in the so-called Jungle migrant camp in Calais for a third day running under the close watch of dozens of police officers equipped with water cannon. Calais is a magnet for people hoping to reach Britain and many have refused to leave.

Hours before the meeting - the first since the November 13 attacks in Paris - Britain agreed to contribute around 20 million euros in extra funding to boost security at the French port of Calais where thousands of migrants have camped out hoping to cross the English Channel.

That announcement came from France's minister for European affairs, speaking to state-run Radio France Internationale. Britain has already contributed more than 60 million euros and "there will be around an extra 20 million euros ($15 million)," Harlem Desir told RFI. He added the money would be used to boost "security of the access zone to the tunnel... and fighting trafficking networks."

The Amiens summit comes ahead of a June 23 referendum on Britain's future in the EU.

BMW warns British employees

European industrial giants have warned that a British exit could cost jobs in the UK. Germany's BMW wrote to British employees who make its luxury Rolls-Royce car about the risks.

"As a wholly-owned BMW Group company, it is important for all Rolls-Royce Motor Cars employees to understand the view of our parent company," BMW said in the letter. "We believe it's much better to be sat at the table when regulations are set and have a hand in their creation, rather than simply having to accept them."

French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron told the Financial Times that if Britain leaves the bloc, France may stop controls on thousands of migrants camped at the Channel and hoping to reach England.

"The day this relationship unravels, migrants will no longer be in Calais and the financial passport would work less well," Macron said.

He argued that the agreement under which France keeps migrants on its side of the Channel may no longer be valid if the UK invokes a so-called "Brexit" and leaves the 28-nation bloc.

Macron also predicted those working in Britain's financial industry needing to work inside an EU country could find a welcome reception in France.

"If I were to reason like those who roll out red carpets, I would say we might have some repatriations from the City of London."

Macron argued that the EU's "collective energy would be spent on unwinding existing links, not re-creating new ones" if British voters rejected membership.

jar/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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