28th Oct 2016

Paris avoids Roma issue at interior ministers' meeting

  • France along with Italy have taken the lead on anti-immigrant policies in Europe (Photo: European Parliament)

A controversial 'immigration' meeting called by Paris amid growing criticism over its deportation of Roma carefully avoided the isssue, while focusing on accelerating procedures for expulsing rejected asylum-seekers from non-EU countries.

The informal gathering on Monday featured Italian interior minister Roberto Maroni of the far-right Northern League, as well as his Canadian counterpart, Jason Kenney, and junior ministers from Greece, Germany and Belgium, along with EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom. Britain sent a UK Border Agency official.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Paris drew a lot of criticism for its selection of guests, as no eastern European countries were invited – notably heavyweight Poland or Romania, to whom France is deporting most of the Roma.

Participants agreed to seek "accelerated procedures" for dealing with people whose requests for asylum or immigration have been refused, said French immigration minister Eric Besson.

The seven countries at the meeting together received more than 183,000 asylum requests in 2009, accounting for half the total in industrialised nations. France was the second-biggest recipient of asylum claims in the world in 2009, after the US. Canada came in third.

"It's urgent to co-ordinate," Mr Besson added.

The Greek representative, Spyros Vougias, said 82 percent of irregular immigrants to Europe entered through his country, which was "no longer able to stem the tide".

Italian minister Maroni, who in the run up to the meeting had praised France's deportations of Roma and said the practice should become an EU model, kept his comments to irregular migration from Africa. Italy has been slammed by human rights groups and the United Nations' refugee agency for having signed a deal with Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi to prevent African asylum seekers from crossing the Mediterranean to Europe.

"The next step in this process is to create a unified European system in legislative terms so that all countries have the same rules and standards in order to better manage a significant phenomenon," Mr Maroni said.

Mr Sarkozy's office confirmed Monday that the president is pushing ahead with another controversial measure - stripping French citizens of their nationality if they are convicted of attacking a law enforcement official. The bill will go to parliament this month.

The measure was first floated in July, when Mr Sarkozy proposed reversing the naturalisation of immigrants convicted of threatening the lives of police in Grenoble. The individuals had participated in a riot after police shot dead a suspected armed robber.

The president also evisages to reform laws to allow immigrants in an irregular situation to be returned to the border, "including, in certain circumstances, those who come from within the European Union."

Tens of thousands of demonstrators protested in several cities throughout Europe in the past few days against Mr Sarkozy's recent security crackdown on Roma ethnics, even as they have EU citizenship.

EU human rights commissioner Viviane Reding on Tuesday is set to hold a public debate in the European Parliament on France's measures against the Roma, after an internal commission paper last week put into question the legality of France's measures.

But in a last-minute meeting held behind closed doors on Monday, Mr Sarkozy consulted commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, officially on items related to France's upcoming chairmanship of the group of 20 most industrialised nations (G20). A spokeswoman for Mr Barroso however did not rule out that the Roma issue may have come up.

News in Brief

  1. Budget commissioner Georgieva takes up World Bank post
  2. Walloon parliament votes to accept Ceta
  3. Euro deficit to fall below 2% next year, commission says
  4. Migration and security top Germany's EU agenda
  5. EU finance rules need 'neutral' enforcer, Germany says
  6. Northern Ireland court rejects Brexit case
  7. EU tables Atlantic sea bass fishing ban
  8. EU states issue record number of residence permits

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersUN global sustainable development goals, integration, and security on agenda for Nordic Council Session 2016
  2. Taipei EU OfficeTaiwan Seeks to Join Fight against Global Warming
  3. ANCI LazioAnci Lazio Definetely has a lot to Celebrate This Year
  4. EU-China ForumDebating the Future of the EU-China Relations on 28 November in Prague
  5. COMECEMigrants: From Fear to Compassion
  6. Birdlife EuropeBusiness as Usual - Juncker Snubs Environment and Protects Broken CAP
  7. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  8. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  9. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  10. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  11. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  12. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament

Latest News

  1. Belgium green lights unchanged Ceta
  2. Poland rejects EU 'interferences' on rule of law
  3. On-road emissions tests: How EU failed to change to the fast lane
  4. Dutch PM asks opposition's help on Ukraine agreement
  5. Wallonia's heroic stand against Ceta is a stand for democracy
  6. Calais children abandoned at former camp site
  7. Greece to probe UN allegations of illegal returns
  8. Poland defies EU on rule of law