Romanian NGOs hail Reding's statement on Roma issue
A federation of Roma civic organisations in Romania hailed on Wednesday Brussels' threats to take legal action against Paris to halt the expulsions of Roma.
"For the first time, the EU is sending clearly and unequivocally a powerful message that the fundamental rights of Roma must be respected,," according to a statement from the federation of 22 non-governmental organisations involved in improving the life of Roma communities.
The declarations made Tuesday by the European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding confirmed the concerns of numerous NGOs, it said.
"Since the circulars of the French authorities proved to be xenophobic and racist, we hope that they will cease the 'priority' evictions of Roma," the statement said.
The NGOs also called on Bucharest to ensure the respect of Roma rights, stressing that members of this minority in Romania continue to be victims of "discrimination and segregation, mainly in education and housing".
The European Union's executive arm said Tuesday it would begin legal proceedings against France over its handling of Roma minorities, which the top EU justice official called a "disgrace."
More than 1,000 Roma have been expelled since President Nicolas Sarkozy announced a clampdown in late July on travelling minorities.
© 2010 AFP