Saturday

24th Feb 2018

France considers easing Roma work restrictions

  • Rampant discrimination and exile are a common experience among the Roma - one of Europe's most disenfranchised minorities. (Photo: Council of Europe)

French minister of interior Manuel Valls announced on Thursday (16 August) that France might consider introducing a Roma work-related insertion programme when ministers meet next week to discuss the issue.

The programme would essentially relax current limitations placed upon Romanian and Bulgarian nationals who want to work in France. Many of France’s 15,000 to 20,000 Roma are from one of the two countries.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Employers, who hire either national for at least one year, are currently required to pay a minimum of €713 in taxes to the French office of integration and immigration. The French state also only allows the nationals to work in a pre-defined set of 150 jobs and under strict conditions.

The announcement to possibly relax access to employment follows the dismantlement of a number of Roma camps in and around French cities in the past week which elicited sharp criticism from human rights organisations and raised concerns from the European Commission.

Around 240 Roma based near Lyon were flown back to Romania last Thursday, while camps near Lille were dismantled reportedly leaving some 60 children without adequate housing.

The minister noted that while France would be seeking to better integrate the Roma, the real solution remains firmly in their principal countries of origin - Romania and Bulgaria.

"It’s these countries, that want to participate in Schengen [the EU passport-free travel treaty], who need to fundamentally change the politics of their centuries-old discrimination against this population," he said on the French radio station France Inter.

Romania and Bulgaria have fulfilled technical conditions for Schengen membership. But accession is on hold pending Dutch objections on problems with corruption and organised crime.

For its part, the Budapest-based European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) says Roma in Romania are treated inhumanly. Some, they say, have been shot at, while others have been forced by authorities to settle in rubbish dumps and near toxic waste plants.

"All in all, it’s unsurprising that Roma leave Romania," notes the ERRC website.

The ERRC also says that giving Roma money and then sending them to Romania is a pointless exercise since many simply return.

ERRC executive director Dezideriu Gergely told this website in an email that "France should refrain from carrying out forced evictions in the absence of legal safeguards" and qualified the voluntary returns as disguised forms of collective expulsions.

He added that the recently announced "insertion villages" for Roma in Lyon and Lille, where many had been kicked out, is a reflection of a policy based solely on security concerns. The "insertion villages" were initiated by the French state in 2007 with the aim, according to the French government, to provide more sanitary and safer alternative to current Roma "ghettos".

The "insertion village" in the industrial zone of Montreuil, for instance, is essentially a parking lot with running water and electricity. Each caravan must pay around €30 a month and children are required to attend public schools.

"This approach is not acceptable. These villages lead to segregation and strengthen the already existing stereotypes about Roma as well as reinforcing social exclusion," said Gergely.

Meanwhile, in an op-ed published on Thursday in the French daily Liberation, EU justice and home affairs minister Viviane Reding said every member state has an obligation to integrate the Roma.

She acknowledged that the French state has put forward plans to insert Roma into society, including the "insertion villages" and expects France to follow through on its programmes.

"The commission will closely follow the developments in France in order to assure that the procedural and material guarantees introduced in 2011 are correctly applied," wrote Reding in the op-ed.

France kicks out Roma, again

Roma in France's northern city of Lille were expelled from their camps over the weekend despite promises by President Hollande to end the practice.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria
  2. UK's post-Brexit vision is 'pure illusion', Tusk says
  3. EU leaders express solidarity with Cyprus in Turkey drill row
  4. EU to double funding for Sahel forces
  5. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  6. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  7. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  8. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeAnkara Ban on LGBTI Events Continues as Turkish Courts Reject NGO Appeals
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU agrees budget to focus on defence, security and migration
  2. EU leaders nix transnational lists, cool on 'Spitzenkandidat'
  3. Regions chief: calls for smaller EU budget are 'impossible'
  4. Election fever picks up This WEEK
  5. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  6. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  7. European far-right political party risks collapse
  8. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  3. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  4. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  5. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  8. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  10. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  12. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?