The plan came in the wake of an accident in the English Channel that left dozens of migrants and refugees, including children, dead.

Talks between Britain and France failed to take place after a diplomatic crisis over who was responsible for the loss of life in the Channel.
Talks between Britain and France failed to take place after a diplomatic crisis over who was responsible for the loss of life in the Channel. (Ben Stansall / AFP)

The EU's border agency is to deploy a plane 24-hours-a-day over the Channel coast to monitor migrant crossings.

France made the announcement on Sunday at a meeting of ministers responsible for immigration from France, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium convened in the northern French port of Calais.

EU border agency Frontex would deploy a surveillance plane "day and night to help the French, Dutch and Belgian police," French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced.

The countries agreed to "strengthen our operational cooperation" in fighting gangs organising transit for groups of people to head over the narrow but treacherous sea lane separating France and England.

The meeting came four days after an unprecedented accident saw 27 people drown in Channel after their inflatable dinghy began losing air while crossing the strait in wintry temperatures.

"We cannot accept that any more people die," Darmanin said.

READ MORE: Death in the Channel, the blame game in the heart of Europe, explained

British talks

The main focus of Sunday's meeting had originally been expected to be talks between Darmanin and British counterpart Priti Patel.

Following Wednesday's accident, both countries had vowed to cooperate to tackle the surge in Channel crossings this year, which saw around 26,000 people sail from France to England.

But within 48 hours of the tragedy, the two countries began blaming the other of being responsible for the accident instead of cooperating towards a solution.

Patel's invitation to Sunday's talks was withdrawn over the breach of diplomatic protocol, pushing relations to new lows.

READ MORE: Channel deaths reflect the moral rot of Britain and France

"We have to work with our British friends and tell them a few things," Darmanin told reporters on Sunday.

"Firstly, help us fight people-smuggling better. We need intelligence. Responses to requests from the French police are not always given."

He also reiterated criticism of the "attractiveness of England" including its lack of mandatory ID cards which he said made it easier for undocumented migrants to find jobs.

Patel called her absence "unfortunate" but said she would be holding "urgent talks" with her European counterparts this week.

READ MORE: Why are more refugees risking the dangerous journey on the English Channel?

Source: TRTWorld and agencies