Sunday

23rd Jul 2017

Parliament demands France immediately stop Roma expulsions

  • Fingerprinting Roma is illegal, according to the EU Parliament (Photo: saucy_pan)

The European Parliament on Thursday (9 September) called for the immediate "suspen[sion of] all expulsions of Roma" by France and all other EU states engaged in the practice, and urged policymakers to avoid "inflammatory rhetoric".

The news came as Paris and Bucharest continued to trade barbs over who is to blame for the failure to integrate the minority.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

The resolution, warning against "lending credibility to racist statements and the actions of extreme right-wing groups," was backed by the left, liberals and Greens and opposed by the right of the house in a 337 to 245 vote, with 51 abstentions.

The parliament "rejects any statements which link minorities and immigration with criminality and create discriminatory stereotypes," a reference to the speech made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in July in which he linked an increase in crime to immigration and began a clampdown on Roma.

Some 900 Roma have subsequently been flown back to Romania and Bulgaria, most of them as part of a so-called voluntary repatriation scheme in which French authorities pay €300 per adult and €100 per child to return.

Fingerprinting Roma, however, as announced by French police, is "illegal and violates the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights," MEPs said. French authorities have said they would fingerprint those people who received money in order to make sure they don't get the aid a second time, if they come back to France.

The EU legislature also deems as illegal the "automatic expulsion" of poor people. According to EU law on free movement of persons, "the lack of economic means can in no circumstances justify the automatic expulsion of EU citizens." Restrictions on freedom of movement can be imposed "solely on the basis of personal conduct, and not of general considerations of prevention or ethnic or national origin."

Mr Sarkozy on Monday suggested that EU citizens be automatically expelled if they have no reasonable economic means of subsistence, an idea already floated by Italy's far-right interior minister, Roberto Maroni.

Italian authorities in recent days have stepped up the dismantling of Roma camps, resorting to the same methods used two year ago, when they ordered a massive crack-down on the minority.

The EU legislature also regretted the "late and limited response" by the European Commission as it took Brussels almost a month to formulate a reaction to the events in France.

Euro-deputies also said there was no connection between the Roma situation and the accepting Romania and Bulgaria to the bloc's border-free "Schengen area", a move planned for next year. This follows French attempts to link the two issues.

France's EU affairs minister, Pierre Lellouche, during a visit to Bucharest on Thursday together with the French immigration minister, called on Romanian authorities to draw up an emergency plan to integrate its populous Roma community.

"The truth is the Roma are not integrated in Romania," he said in the Romanian capital.

Officially, there are 535,000 Roma registered in Romania, but some estimates put the numbers at around 2 million.

A further 10 million are scattered throughout the rest of eastern and central Europe, living mainly in ghettos, shanty towns and caravans.

Romanian President Traian Basescu, however, put the blame on the French and said their actions were in breach of EU law.

"The French government is acting outside the norms of a European state," Mr Basescu said in an interview aired on Wednesday on public television.

The trip of the two French ministers was going to be "useless", he said, "if they are coming here to lecture us."

On the other hand, Mr Basescu acknowledged that it was not solely the responsibility of the French state, but also of the Romanian one and the Roma themselves. "Nobody stops them from sending their children to school instead of begging," he said.

But keeping Roma in one place is "against their nomadic culture" and Mr Basescu saw no political solution to that. "Instead of fooling them with €300, maybe we could find a formula to help them buy caravans," he added.

Centre-right support for France

Meanwhile, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) to which Mr Sarkozy's own party is affiliated, deplored the final text after having failed to take out criticism aimed directly at Paris and Brussels.

"Pointing fingers at France and the European Commission as the left side of the European Parliament has done in a resolution adopted today, does not, unfortunately, address the real challenges of improving the living conditions, education, healthcare and other basic needs of the Roma people who are EU citizens", said Simon Busuttil, a Maltese centre-right MEP who had tabled an alternative version of the resolution, which was voted down in the plenary.

The EPP said it will set up an internal "working group" chaired by centre-right MEP Livia Jaroka from Hungary, the only Roma deputy in the EU legislature.

"It is my clear ambition to start working immediately and to put forward specific policy recommendations with my colleagues in order to promote the institutional establishment of an EU level strategy for the economic and social inclusion of Roma," Ms Jaroka said in a statement.

Parents of EU children win right to stay

Countries cannot automatically refuse residence to parents of EU children simply because the other parent could care for the minor, the EU's top court ruled on Wednesday.

EU parliament shelves NGO funding proposal

The report, which aimed to improve scrutiny on the EU's financing of civil society, was postponed after Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orban, compared it to a controversial Hungarian bill.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Dutch coalition talks lengthiest in 40 years
  2. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  3. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  4. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  5. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  6. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  7. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  8. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEP Support for Corporate Tax Transparency Principle Unlikely to Pass Reality Check
  2. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Improves the External Investment Plan but Significant Challenges Ahead
  3. EU2017EEPM Ratas: EU Is Not Only an Idea for the 500mn People in the Bloc, It Is Their Daily Reality
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCloser Energy Co-Operation Keeps Nordic Region on Top in Green Energy
  5. ILGA-EuropeGermany Finally Says Ja - Bundestag Votes for Marriage Equality!
  6. EPSUJapanese and European Public Sector Unions Slam JEFTA
  7. World VisionEU, Young Leaders and Civil Society Join Forces to End Violence Against Girls
  8. UNICEFNarrowing the Gaps: The Power of Investing in the Health of the Poorest Children
  9. EU2017EEEstonia to Surprise Europe With Unique Cultural Programme
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Vs. Critical Voices
  11. European Free AllianceEFA Is Looking for a New Intern
  12. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law