France calls for EU-wide plan for illegal gypsy camps

FRENCH Prime Minister Francois Fillon believes the European Union needs a continent-wide plan for illegal gypsy camps and child beggars that he described as plagues of the 19th century.

At the same time, the EU justice commissioner maintained her concerns about France’s expulsions of more than 1,000 gypsies, or Roma, in recent weeks, and said yesterday her staff could finish its analysis of whether France is violating EU law by October 29.

Fillon warned the European Commission against making “hasty” decisions to take France to court over the expulsions. He defended France’s evacuations of “shantytown” Roma camps.

“This forced begging, by very young children, in the streets of our cities, who can tolerate this? Who wants Europe to plunge back into the worst of the 19th century?” he asked yesterday.

“We need a European policy for the Roma situation,” Fillon said. “This policy should be based on the integration of the most vulnerable populations in their countries of origin, using part of the billions of euro given to these countries by the European budget.”

Roma arrivals in France come mainly from Romania and Bulgaria. As EU citizens, they have a right to enter France without a visa, but they must prove they won’t become a burden on the state for stays longer than three months.

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said: “We built this Europe on values, so that certain things never happen again... I would really hope that this upheaval in recent days would serve one purpose, that everyone would in the future take seriously the solution to the problem that affects 10 million European citizens.


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