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Three women wearing masks representing the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, right, Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux, left, and French Immigration Minister, Eric Besson, with swastikas

EU may take legal action against France over Roma deportations

France’s mass-deportations of Roma Gypsies could be in breach of EU law.

THE EUROPEAN UNION may take legal action against France over the country’s recent deportation of over a thousand Roma Gypsies to Bulgaria and Romania.

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has called France’s actions “a disgrace”.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels today, Reding said:

I personally have been appalled by a situation which gave the impression that people are being removed from a Member State of the European Union just because they belong to a certain ethnic minority. This is a situation I had thought Europe would not have to witness again after the Second World War.

She demanded that France furnish the commission with an immediate explanation on the matter, and added that the Commission will have “no choice but to initiate infringement action against France”.

The disciplinary proceedings could mean large fines for France. A commission decision will be made within two weeks and the case will then go before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

Reding said that the publication in the French media of a leaked official document, which suggested the Roma had been specifically targeted by the authorities, meant she could not take as true assurances given by the French authorities that the Roma were deported on a case-by-case basis.

“The role of the Commission as guardian of the treaties is made extremely difficult if we can no longer have confidence in the assurances given by two ministers in a formal meeting,” she said.

The memo was dated 5 August and was sent from the interior ministry to regional police chiefs. It said: “Three hundred camps or illegal settlements must be cleared within three months, Roma camps are a priority.”

France has insisted that it has complied entirely with EU law and that the deportation of many Roma was voluntary.

Reding’s message today was explicit; “I make it very clear my patience is wearing thin: enough is enough.”

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