The French government has lashed out at European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding, after she made comparisons with ethnic persecution in WWII in criticising the expulsion of Roma migrants from France.
The French minister for European Affairs, Pierre Lellouche, in an interview on French radio said:
“We give them money and a plane ticket to their country of origin. There are no death trains, there are no gas chambers. She has added her voice to this sort of volatile talk and it will not do!”
At the end of August, the minister went to Brussels to discuss the Roma policy with Reding, who is the EU’s Commissioner for Justice, following international condemnation of the expulsions.
The French delegation said there was no specific targeting of the Roma in dismantling illegal campsites.
Then Reding learned of a French Interior Ministry document in which Roma encampments are given priority.
The President of the Commission backs Reding’s approach.
Jose Manuel Barroso said: “Vice-President Reding took her position yesterday after consultations with me and with my full support.”
Reding has said the expulsions of Roma are “a disgrace”, and probably break EU law.
Paris says they went voluntarily — more than 8,000 this year, mainly to Romania.
As EU citizens, Roma can stay in any country in the bloc outside their own for up to three months.
To stay longer, they need legal employment and have to pay into a social security system.