Technical meetings on the legality of expulsions of Roma from from France to Romania and Bulgaria are taking place in Brussels. Freedom of movement for EU citizens is under scrutiny. Paris has said its deportation of nearly 9,000 Roma from illegal camps in France so far this year respects EU rules.
Opinions in the European Parliament differ.
MEP Sophia in ‘t Veld told Euronews: “There are still procedural rules to be followed. It is not clear that the French government has done so. In any case there should always be an individual assessment, and it seems very obvious that we are talking about collective expulsions here, which is not the same as an individual assessment.”
The parliament’s political groups are debating the matter. The European Commission is also exploring conditions for the EU’s largest ethnic minority in various countries.
Françoise Le Bail, EC Director-general for Justice, said: “The Commission is well aware of the problems of integration, and is willing to play the role of honest broker between the member states, to allow the development and reinforcement of measures targeted at Roma integration.”
In Brussels, France has defended its Roma expulsions as a crackdown on crime, stressing that those repatriated are given options, and cash incentives.
Human rights activists closely link the political problem with social exclusion, economic difficulties and anti-immigrant feeling, as well as poor conditions for the Roma in their countries of origin, which for most are Romania and Bulgaria.