Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex 16



  The decision to build a tunnel under the Channel was sealed by the 1986 Anglo-French Treaty of Canterbury. The Treaty contained provision for a supplementary Protocol to be agreed, allowing frontier control officers of each State to operate in the territory of the other—juxtaposed controls. The Fixed Link is defined as the tunnel system, and the termini at Coquelles (France) and Cheriton (UK). The legislation referred to in this paper also contained provisions relating to other traffic using the tunnel system, including Eurostar passenger through trains from Waterloo International to France and Belgium. Within the Fixed Link only Eurotunnel vehicles carrying shuttle trains operate.

  The Sangatte Protocol was published in January 1992, and set out in detail the terms under which juxtaposed frontier controls could operate. Its main provisions are:

    —  A Control Zone to be established in each terminal. Although the zones remain the territory of the home state, officers from the visiting state may exercise frontier control powers as though on their own territory. Detailed plans showing the control zones were agreed prior to commencement of services and, in the case of the UK, copies were lodged in the library of the House of Commons.

    —  Permanent co-operation and liaison arrangements between the control authorities of the two states. Regular meetings, at various levels, take place. Organisation charts, including 24 hour contact telephone numbers, have been exchanged, and regularly updated. In respect of attempted illegal entry to the UK through the French terminal at Coquelles both the French Frontier Police (PAF) and the French Customs (Douanes) have fulfilled the requirement to co-operate and assist "to the fullest possible extent" in the prevention and detection of offences against the laws and regulations of either state relating to Frontier Controls. Similar co-operation arrangements exist in relation to the activities of Customs and Police, and public safety and rescue services (within the tunnel itself).

    —  Arrangements fixing the order of frontier controls, jurisdiction and co-operation in criminal matters, and protection for officers of the visiting state.

  Because the Control Zone remains the territory of the home state, its officers remain responsible for all matters other than frontier controls, including for example the maintenance of law and order.

  It was necessary to empower officers under UK law to operate in the Control Zone in France. This was done by means of the Channel Tunnel (International Arrangements) Order 1993. Schedule 2 brought into effect the provisions of the Sangatte Protocol. Schedule 4 amended the Immigration Act 1971 to the special circumstances of the control zone. An order is required each time it is necessary to apply new immigration law, the most recent example being the Channel Tunnel (International Arrangements) (Amendment) Order 2000 (2000 No 913).

  A passenger within the control zone at Coquelles is legally still in France, even though UK frontier controls are taking place there. The point of arrival in the UK is at the international marked frontier at the mid point of the tunnel system. In immigration terms a person does not enter until they leave the fixed link ie the terminal at Cheriton. Immigration officers working at Coquelles must take account of two important consequences of this. Applications for asylum are not accepted, because the person is still in France. Also a person cannot enter illegally at Coquelles but may, by definition, be an illegal entrant through seeking to enter illegally. The position of the UK controls within the French terminal also means that it is possible to by-pass them. For this reason immigration officers have power to question any person within the Control Zone to determine whether or not they intend to travel to the UK and, if so, whether or not they are subject to examination under UK immigration law. If they require leave to enter such persons may be given or refused it, or treated as illegal entrants for seeking to enter illegally.

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