France vows to change law to end Roma row with EU
France vowed Friday to change its laws on the free movement of EU citizens in order to meet a European Commission ultimatum following a controversial crackdown on Roma Gypsies.
French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said 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.
A French diplomatic source said the commission would receive written assurances from Paris later Friday.
France's commitment to ensuring that European citizens can travel and work where they like came under scrutiny in recent months after President Nicolas Sarkozy launched a drive to send Roma migrants back to eastern Europe.
The European Commission has 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 expressed regret for.
The scandal 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.
Reding's spokesman, Matthew Newman, said the justice official's office would examine the French response at the weekend and decide whether it meets the commission's demands.
© 2010 AFP