France replies to EU on Roma's free movement: EU

15th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

France sent its reply to the EU executive on its expulsion of Roma, ahead of a midnight deadline to give assurances that it will fall in line with EU laws or face legal action, an EU spokesman said.

"We received the French documents, we will analyse them during the weekend," spokesman Matthew Newman said.

He did not give details on the French reply but France vowed earlier Friday to change its laws on the free movement of EU citizens in order to meet the European Commission ultimatum following its controversial crackdown on Roma Gypsies.

French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said earlier France was "disposed" to transfer certain measures from the Union's directive on free movement into French national law to increase the transparency and clarity of the law.

Two weeks ago, the European Commission, the guardian of European Union treaties, had given Paris until Friday before midnight to give assurances that it would fall in line with EU laws or face legal action.

"It is facts that matter, not words," said Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly.

France's commitment to ensuring that European citizens can travel and work where they like came under scrutiny after President Nicolas Sarkozy launched a drive to send Roma migrants back to eastern Europe.

The European Commission threatened to take legal action against Paris unless it incorporates the free movement directive more completely into French law or if it is found to have targeted migrants by ethnic background.

France insists there was nothing racist in the moves against the Roma, whom it says were rounded up simply because they had overstayed the period they were allowed to stay in France without any visible means of financial support.

The controversy caused tensions between France and Brussels after European justice commissioner Viviane Reding drew a parallel between the expulsions and World War II deportations, a comparison she later regretted.

The controversy boiled over on September 16 when Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso verbally clashed at a summit of EU leaders, but the two sides have since sought to ease tensions.

© 2010 AFP

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