France resumes deportations of Roma people from Romania
France is once again returning Roma people from Romania back to their home country even though the practice has previously sparked sharp disputes between Paris and the European Commission. DPA reports that a special flight to the western Romanian city of Timisoara left the northern French town of Lille with as many as 160 Roma people on board yesterday.
All adult Roma people on the flight allegedly received EUR 300 during the flight from local authorities, while each Roma child was given EUR 100. DPA reports that in exchange, they all had to sign statements promising never to return to France.
Last year France's extensive returns of Roma people, primarily to Bulgaria and Romania, which are both EU Member States, prompted intense discussions. Brussels warned that the French were not respecting EU rules on the free movement of persons. At the time Paris argued that the returns were not deportations. More than 8 000 Roma people departed the country as part of the government action.
An estimated 10-12 million Roma people live in the EU, which has a total population of roughly half a billion. The Roma minority is the EU's largest ethnic minority.