Up to France to decide on Gypsy expulsions: EU

29th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

The European Union's executive arm said on Thursday that France was free to decide whether to expel Gypsies from other EU states who break the law.

The European Commission said that under the 27-nation bloc's freedom of movement laws it was up to individual member states to decide whether to kick someone out of a country for committing a crime.

"It is really for the state to decide, so it is really a French issue and we cannot really go further than that," said a spokesman for European justice and rights commissioner Viviane Reding, who has warned against Roma discrimation.

Before an EU citizen can be expelled from a member state, authorities must examine whether a crime was committed and how the person is integrated into the host country, said the spokesman, Matthew Newman.

But, he added, "We're not here, as the European Commission, to judge on individual cases of Roma people. It's for each government, each authority to make those decisions."

French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said Wednesday 300 illegal "camps or squats" housing Gypsies and travellers would be shut down and foreign Gypsies breaking the law would undergo "virtually immediate" deportation to their countries of origins.

The announcement came after President Nicolas Sarkozy held crisis talks to discuss what he described as the security "problems" posed by the minority, following an attack on a police station in central France last week.

Rights groups accused him of stigmatising the Roma, Gypsy and traveller minorities.

There are around 400,000 Gypsies and other travelling people in France, and 95 percent of them have French citizenship. Many are thought to be from EU members Bulgaria and Romania.

Reding had warned at a European Roma Summit in April that "the situation of many Roma seems to have deteriorated over the years. That is simply not acceptable."

"Too many Roma are still victims of racism, discrimination and social exclusion," she added.

© 2010 AFP

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