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Roma rights and funding firmly on EU agenda

brussels bureau

Roma rights and funding firmly on EU agenda


President Jose Manuel Barroso of the European Commission did not mention France by name in his state of the union speech in the European Parliament. On the question of Roma migrant expulsions, he veiled any criticism of France. He said governments must respect minorities and all EU citizens’ rights, just as they, in turn, must respect the law.

It was not good enough for some MEPs.

Liberal Sophie in ‘t Veld said: “When there is a violation of fundamental rights, the Commission is very timid. If there is a violation in the case of France or other countries which also engage in mass expulsion of Roma people, the Commission will have to act and enforce the rules, that’s its duty.”

Liberal Jean-Luc Benhamias said: “We’ll be scrutinising what we do with European funding over the next weeks, the several hundreds of millions of euros that should go towards helping the Roma populations, several million people. It will be up to us to see where these funds go, and to ask that the money be monitored, whether it’s in Romania, Bulgaria or Hungary. For the moment that is not being done.”

In spite of EU laws on the free movement of citizens, France — saying it is to crack down on crime — has expelled more than 1,000 Roma in the past month, more than 8,000 this year, attracting condemnation in France and abroad.

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