France 'astonished' by EU legal threat over Roma expulsions

14th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

France said Tuesday it was astonished by a European commissioner's threat to take legal action to halt its expulsion of Roma Gypsies and said it did not want to be drawn into an argument.

"We learnt of Viviane Reding's statement with astonishment. We don't think that this kind of declaration will help improve the predicament of the Roma, who are at the heart of our concerns," said foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero.

Reding, the EU's top justice official, said earlier that she was "appalled" by France's mass expulsions of Roma, which were ramped up in August, and that the European Commission was considering taking legal action.

"This is not the moment for an argument, or for this kind of statement. It's time to work in favour of the Roma population," Valero said.

"It's in this spirit and with this objective that we are working closely with the authorities in Bucharest," he said, adding that Paris would also work with the European Commission.

© 2010 AFP

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