Roma returning to Romania from France are at the centre of highly charged procedures taking place in Brussels. This concerns the right of freedom of movement for EU citizens and the legal lines along which a country’s authorities can have them leave its territory.
Paris has said its deportation of nearly 9,000 Roma from illegal camps in France so far this year respects EU rules. After a preliminary report on this, the European Commission has asked the French to prove it.
A Romanian liberal member in the European Parliament doubts they will be able to.
Renate Weber, said: “By misusing this idea of giving some money to the people to go back to their country of origin… In fact it is a perverse way of doing [it] with the directive on free movement.”
As EU citizens, the Roma are free to live in any EU state for up for three months. Beyond that they need to work and contribute to the social security programme.
Michèle Striffler, a French EU parliament member with the centre-right European People’s Party, defended her country.
Striffler said: “France today is applying the European rules and violating absolutely no rights. And France is the only country giving financial compensation, giving the Roma money so they can invest it in their country.”
Widely denounced for drawing links between Europe’s largest ethnic minority and crime, France, saying the returns were voluntary, has come under growing pressure to show that its crime crackdown through deportation is not targeting the Roma alone.