Wednesday

18th Jul 2018

France appoints 'top cop' interior minister as PM

  • Manuel Valls became France's PM after Jean-Marc Ayrault quit (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

France’s interior minister Manuel Valls was named Prime Minister on Monday (31 March) by centre-left president Francois Hollande.

The 51-year old Valls replaced Jean-Marc Ayrault, who quit after the French socialist government took a beating by both centre-right and far-right groups in local elections.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

But Valls, also known as top cop or "premier flic" in France, has drawn criticism from pro-rights group for his law and order drive against the minority Roma population.

“The majority [of Roma] should be delivered back to the borders. We are not here to welcome these people,” he said last September.

The Barcelona-born son of Spanish immigrants, Valls said France’s job is not to deal with the misery of others.

There are an estimated 20,000 Roma in France. Valls kicked out around half in the first six months of 2013. Most are from Bulgaria, Romania, and Balkan countries.

Valls’ tough stance against the minority is compared to the hard line taken by former conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy.

A report by the London-based Amnesty International called for an end to the forced evictions in France, noting that authorities make few attempts to protect the vulnerable.

Amnesty International secretary general Salil Shetty told this website earlier this year that the EU risks losing credibility and legitimacy with the wider world due to member states' treatment of minority groups.

“Roma are the single largest minority group with wide-spread discrimination across countries and across sectors,” he said.

Discrimination affects all aspects of Roma life like health, education, employment and evictions, he noted.

Shetty said the European Commission was not doing enough to enforce the EU's racial equality directive.

“They [European Commission] are supposed to monitor compliance, but that is not happening. Infringement proceedings are not being used,” he said.

Shetty said the commission’s argument that there is not enough evidence for a legal case “is outrageous”.

“We feel there is so much evidence that has already been gathered, we ourselves have submitted evidence of abuse,” he said.

The commission, for its part, says it is up to member states to enforce the rules of the directive on the ground.

It launched a number of initial infringements against France and Poland because they had not fully transposed the directive into national legislation.

The transposition infringements were later dropped after it ruled them compliant.

Roma are EU citizens too, Romanian President says

Romania's president has strongly defended freedom of movement within the EU, saying Roma have the same rights as other EU citizens and should not be misused for populist campaigns.

Opinion

Hate speech, not Europe, tops agenda in French EU vote

The European election is largely absent from the French public sphere, but the same cannot be said for hate speech. The only ones to profit from this electoral silence are extreme parties.

Analysis

Will Austria's presidency give EU a populist push?

As Sebastian Kurz's government takes over the helm of EU-policy making for the next six months, Austrian MEPs from opposing sides weigh in on the EU's youngest prime minister's possible influence on the continent's future.

Interview

EU populists not actually that 'popular', says global activist

"The populists are not popular. It's 14 percent of the vote in Germany and smaller percentages in other countries," says global campaigner Ricken Patel, considering to use his organisation, Avaaz, to raise turnout in next year's European parliament elections.

Interview

EU populists not actually that 'popular', says global activist

"The populists are not popular. It's 14 percent of the vote in Germany and smaller percentages in other countries," says global campaigner Ricken Patel, considering to use his organisation, Avaaz, to raise turnout in next year's European parliament elections.

Opinion

Rutte - from 'Mr No' to 'next Tusk'?

Make no mistake – Rutte, sometimes considered as a potential candidate to succeed Donald Tusk, is one of the toughest of the EU's current heads of state.

News in Brief

  1. EU will reply 'tit for tat' to US trade measures
  2. EU Commission registers Brexit citizenship petition
  3. EU launches pre-accession probe for Albania and Macedonia
  4. Google faces multibillion euro EU fine for Android
  5. EU wants more guarantees from VW on Dieselgate fix
  6. EU to Russia: take responsibility for MH17 attack
  7. Juncker to meet Trump on 25 July
  8. EU and Japan sign trade and data deals

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us