CHANNEL TUNNEL FIXED LINK
UK IMMIGRATION CONTROLS
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 otherjuxtaposed 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.