The European Commission (EC) announced today it intends to start an infringement procedure against France which violated European rights in the case of the repatriation of the Romanian and Bulgarian Roma communities.
“Enough is enough!” said Viviane Reding, vice-president of the European Commission responsible for justice and fundamental rights, who announced that she will launch a legal procedure against France for discriminating against the Roma. The way Paris has managed the issue is “a disgrace,” said Reding in a rare loss of temper, according to a news on the site EurActiv.com.
Commenting this reaction, French president, Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly said Reding should host some Roma in her own country, Luxembourg, reported AFP.
Reding’s position is supported by Germany and the president of the EC, Manuel Barroso, who said however that she should have used a more moderate tone.
Reding’s announcement, made during the Commission’s regular midday press briefing, was prompted by a ‘circular letter’ from the French administration instructing local authorities to single out the Roma community in the government’s drive to expel residents staying in France illegally. The letter, dated 5 August and published by the French media, is signed by the director of cabinet for the interior minister.
The document repeatedly mentions that “the evacuation of illegal campsites” should be targeted at the Roma “as a priority,” according to the EurActiv.com news.
“Romania should not interpret freedom of movement in the EU as a right to get rid of its Roma at the expense of other countries, Pierre Lellouche, the French state secretary for European affairs, said.
Also, EU European affairs ministers decided to extend monitoring on Romania and Bulgaria, which was put in place to tackle their poorly functioning judicial systems and inability to curb corruption. France said the majority of countries are opposed to Bucharest and Sofia’s accession to Schengen until the monitoring has been lifted.
“It is not only the view of France. I think the implicit link made by all governments is that from the moment when the conditions required by the control mechanism are not fully met, a number of things are not feasible, including [the two countries] controlling the EU’s external borders. Nobody opposed this view,” said Lellouche.