French defend Roma expulsions in Brussels

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French defend Roma expulsions in Brussels

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France’s ministers for immigration and European affairs have been discussing the controversial repatriation of Roma from French territory with the European Justice and Home Affairs commissioners — in Brussels.

As EU citizens — of Romania, mostly — Roma have a right to travel to other EU countries, but they must have employment to stay more than three months legally in France.

The Roma are the EU bloc’s largest ethnic minority, estimated to number ten million in total. Some one thousand of them have been flown out of France in the past month, more than 8,000 during the year.

Brussels is assessing whether the deportations breach EU law. The French refute any such suggestion.

Immigration minister Eric Besson told euronews: “It’s for the court judge to authorise dismantling a camp, it’s the judge who verifies whether the deportees are forced to go or go voluntarily, scrupulously respecting our procedures. That is why there have not been forced returns of people from the dismantled camps — because the one month’s notice to which they are entitled did not run out. The allegations are grotesque!”

The French Prime Minister has said the Roma are not being stigmatised and that this is a matter of respecting the law. He said that “fifteen percent of delinquency in Paris is down to young Romanians.”

Paris has asked Bucharest to do more to improve conditions at home for the Roma, many of whom leave Romania in search of a better life.

France will host a larger meeting on migration on September 6.