Thursday, September 30, 2010

The EU acts to protect Roma

For the past two months, as part of a racist crackdown, the French government has been deporting Roma. The move has been condemned by the European Parliament, and EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, who called it "a disgrace" and "a situation I had thought Europe would not have to witness again after the second world war". Now the European Union is finally, belatedly, taking action, ordering France to obey EU law on freedom of movement or face legal action:

"France is not enforcing European law as it should on free movement, so we are launching an infringement process against France," Ms Reding told France 24 television.

Ms Reding says France has failed to transpose into law a 2004 EU directive on freedom of movement, which sets out procedures for deporting migrants deemed to be staying illegally.

The Roma sent home to Romania and Bulgaria are EU citizens, so they have the right to move to another EU country. But host countries can deport people considered to be a public security risk or a burden on the welfare system.

Unfortunately, they backed away from the obvious and strong case that France was engaging in racial discrimination. Orders to the French police make it clear they are targeting Roma on the basis of their ethnicity, contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, and they need to be held accountable for it. But stopping the deportations should be the immediate goal, and hopefully the EU action will be enough to achieve it.