EU threatens action against France over Roma

The EU is threatening to take legal action against France for targeting and deporting Roma migrants.

Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding described the action as a “disgrace”.

At a press conference in Brussels yesterday she accused French ministers of not telling the truth about the situation to the Commission last week.

Over the past few weeks, the French have been gathering up Roma people from 300 camps across the country and havedeported about 8,000 to Romania and Bulgaria.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy claimed the move was a crackdown on crime.

Reding said Paris had broken EU law on the free movement of people.

Discriminating against people because of theirethnicity is contrary to the EU’s convention on human rights and deporting breaches the EU’s core right to freedom of movement, she said.

She revealed that during a formal meeting with French Immigration Minister Eric Besson and European Affairs Minister Pierre Lellouche, she and Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom received political assurances that specific ethnic groups were not being targeted and repatriations were voluntary.

However, some days later, an official government circular, specifically mentioning the Roma, was leaked to the media. It told French officials and police of a “specific objective” laid down by Sarkozy to evacuate within three months 300 illegal camps, “specifically those of the Roma”.

* The French Senate last night overwhelmingly backed a bill banning the wearing of the full Islamic veil in public. The Senate voted 246 to 1 in favour of the bill.


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