What will Sunak’s Paris visit bring?
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is travelling to Paris on Friday for a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron. This marks the first summit meeting in five years after relations between London and Paris cooled significantly over Brexit. This time round the focus will be on finding a coordinated response to migration. Commentators hope relations between the two countries will enter a new phase.
Hopefully this signals a thaw
The Financial Times hopes more such meetings will take place:
“It would be in both Europe and the UK’s interests for the Paris summit to be followed by similar bilateral meetings in Berlin and elsewhere. Sunak should also use the momentum created by his Windsor deal to bolster EU ties, for example by overcoming any wavering and taking the UK into the Horizon science programme. UK support for Ukraine has already provided one illustration, but it is time to make good on the slogan that emerged after the 2016 Brexit referendum that Britain had voted to ‘leave the EU, but not Europe’.”
Time for pragmatism to prevail
Writing in in Les Echos, François-Joseph Schichan, the former French head of the Political Department at the French Embassy in London, describes French-British relations as follows:
“The challenge for France is to ensure that the UK, as one of our most important neighbours, does not drift away but remains aligned to our interests and those of the EU. Our relationship with the UK — unlike that with Germany — is not a passionate one. We are aware of our differences and points of convergence. Bound by history and geography, we must adopt a realistic and pragmatic approach to rebuild a relationship with this country which, if not always warm, is more necessary than ever.”
Be tough together
Paris and London must coordinate their policies, demands Hervé Mariton, France’s former Minister for Overseas Territories (Les Républicains), in Le Figaro:
“The migration issue is not a taboo in our relationship nor a small matter to be dealt with discreetly; it is a challenge we must face together. This week the British government has sharpened the tone of its policy with its Illegal Migration Bill. For the sake of balance, the French side must act with equal rigour.”