EU parliament to take up plight of Roma
The European parliament will debate the plight of the Roma minority in Europe next week in the wake of France's controversial deportation of hundreds of gypsies.
The decision by the parliament to tackle the issue next Tuesday comes as the European Commission scrutinises the legality of the measures taken by France to send Roma migrants back to Bulgaria and Romania.
Jerzy Buzek, the European parliament's president, said lawmakers "are concerned about the situation of the Roma people in some member states," but he did not single out France.
"All European citizens have the same rights within the EU. No one can be expelled from a country just because they belong to the Roma minority," Buzek said on Thursday.
"Taking into account that we need to improve the social integration of the Roma communities, we should avoid any discriminatory rhetoric in the discussion on this issue," he said.
French authorities have linked the Roma to crime and expelled nearly 1,000 to Romania and Bulgaria since announcing a high-profile crackdown last July, sparking international criticism. More than 8,000 have been deported since the beginning of the year.
European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding presented to her colleagues on Wednesday a report asking France for detailed information to determine if EU laws were applied in the recent deportations, a European diplomat said.
Article 21 of the Treaty of Rome says that all EU citizens have the right to move and establish themselves in any of the 27 member states. But restrictions may be imposed in the name of public order.
French Immigration Minister Eric Besson and European Affairs Minister Pierre Lellouche met with top European officials on Tuesday to defend the deportations, which they said were in line with EU laws.
© 2010 AFP