France to modify laws on Roma: minister

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France, under pressure from the European Union over its expulsions of Roma, will modify its laws on the free circulation of EU citizens, Immigration Minister Eric Besson announced late Tuesday.

"Since it (the European Commission) has a doubt" about French implementation of the relevant EU directives, France will modify its law to take account of their remarks, Besson told Public Senat television station.

He said a decision on the timing of the modification would come in the 48 hours, but added the alterations probably happen in December or early January.

Late last month, the European Commission said it believed France had failed to implement an EU directive on free movement and gave the government until October 15 to respond.

The commission threatened to issue a formal notice of infringement proceedings if France failed to take action, which could land the country before the European Court of Justice.

But Besson said Tuesday he was confident that a dialogue with Brussels would resolved the disagreement.

"We will bring all the evidence, all the necessary guarantees," he said, pledging that his government would show their policy of repatriating Roma to Romania and Bulgaria was being carried out correctly and was not discriminatory.

Last week, the European Commission said it would closely watch a French probe into alleged secret lists of Roma and other travelling minorities.

Lawyers for rights groups alleged in a formal complaint that French police are keeping the secret lists in breach of laws on ethnic profiling.

© 2010 AFP

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