Justice

EU takes legal action against France over Roma

The European Commission is to launch legal proceedings against France over its expulsion of Romanian and Bulgarian Roma (Gypsy) migrants.

Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said France had failed to respect European rules on freedom of movement.

The controversial expulsions of thousands of Roma led to a serious row between Brussels and Paris.

Recently Ms Reding compared France´s action to events during World War II.

The accusation drew a sharp rebuke from French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"France is not enforcing European law as it should on free movement, so we are launching an infringement process against France," Ms Reding told France 24 television.

Ms Reding says France has failed to transpose into law a 2004 EU directive on freedom of movement, which sets out procedures for deporting migrants deemed to be staying illegally.

The Roma sent home to Romania and Bulgaria are EU citizens, so they have the right to move to another EU country. But host countries can deport people considered to be a public security risk or a burden on the welfare system.

President Sarkozy says the illegal Roma camps threaten to become shanty towns. He launched the crackdown in late July, calling the camps breeding grounds for people trafficking, prostitution and child exploitation.

More than 1,000 Roma have been deported since Mr Sarkozy announced that the camps would be torn down.

A leaked memo from the French interior ministry infuriated Ms Reding earlier this month.

It showed the authorities had been instructed to target Roma camps, rather than deal with migrants on a case-by-case basis, as the French migration minister and the minister for Europe had assured the European Commission.

(Published by BBC – September 29, 2010)

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