Legal moves against France over Roma just 'suspended': EU

20th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

European Union justice chief Viviane Reding insisted Wednesday that legal action against France over its controversial expulsion of Roma migrants has only been "suspended", not dropped completely.

"We haven't dropped the procedure, we've only suspended it," Reding told Austrian public radio Oe1, speaking in German.

On Tuesday, the European Commission said it would not pursue -- at least for the time being -- the threat of legal action against France after Paris vowed to change its freedom of movement laws.

In the Austrian radio interview Wednesday, Reding said the French parliament would have to vote on the changes in January if they were to come into effect in the spring. If the changes were rejected or not implemented, the EU could resume the infringement procedure, she said.

France drew a chorus of international criticism in recent months for rounding up hundreds of Roma from illegal camps and sending them back to Romania and Bulgaria.

But the French government met a deadline last Friday set by the European Commission to give assurances that it would fall in line with EU laws on freedom of movement or face legal action.

Justice Commissioner Reding said the EU would look into ways member states could help their Roma minorities at a ministerial-level meeting in April.

It was about "asking ourselves how European funds can be better utilised to help these people in all member states," Reding said, noting that "there is a lot of work to do ... to bring the Roma people out of poverty."

© 2010 AFP

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