Discrimination against minorities 'unacceptable': Barroso
European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said Thursday that discrimination against ethnic minorities was "unacceptable," following a row with France over a crackdown on Roma migrants.
"Discrimination against ethnic minorities is unacceptable," Barroso said after a European Union summit that was overshadowed by the controversy, including a reportedly "testosterone-heavy" clash between him and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Barroso conceded that the European Commission's top justice official, Viviane Reding, had crossed a line by likening the French government's expulsion of hundreds of Roma migrants to World War II deportations.
"It is true that in the heat of debates, we have heard excessive comments," he told a news conference, noting that Reding "admitted that herself yesterday. Others should think about doing the same."
Reding on the eve of the summit expressed "regret", insisting that she "in no way wanted to draw a parallel between World War II and the actions of the French government today."
The EU's executive arm could also "complain about a certain rethoric, but let's put this aside now," Barroso said.
"There are substantive matters to discuss. Let's not be distracted from real problems," he said in a thinly veiled reference to France.
© 2010 AFP