Socialist MEPs call on EU to condemn repatriation of Roma
Yesterday Socialist MEPs declared that they are horrified by the repatriation of Roma from France to Bulgaria and Romania and called on the European Union to condemn Paris for violating EU laws on freedom of movement, AFP reports. Paris sent a total of 283 Romanian Roma back to Romania yesterday.
"The way Roma in France have been treated recently fills us with horror. It is impossible that this has met no resistance,” said Martin Schutz, head of the Socialist group at the European Parliament. "For electoral, populist reasons, the rights of these people have been trampled by a government which is rapidly losing support."
The Socialist MEPs are of the opinion that France has also trampled on EU laws and have called on the EU to condemn violations of the law on freedom of movement. "If the information is confirmed that those being repatriated are also being fingerprinted, that is another violation of the law, in particular the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms,” the Socialists said. They have called on the European Commission and the EU presidency to issue a declaration in this matter during the next European Parliament session in Strasbourg at the start of September.
While freedom of movement is a fundamental right enjoyed by EU citizens, some restrictions to that right do apply. According to an EU law from 2004, EU citizens may freely travel around the EU and remain in any one country for up to three months under the condition that they carry a valid passport or national identification card. They must also be employed, be students, or have sufficient resources to not become a burden on the social system of the country where they are residing, and they must have health insurance.
There are other restrictions to freedom of movement, especially ones that flow from the requirements of public order, but those restrictions are always based on the behavior of individuals. Deportation decisions must be communicated to those involved and must be justified. With the exception of urgent cases, most individuals are given one month to leave the country after being issued a deportation order.
Yesterday Paris sent a total of 283 Romanian Roma back to Romania. The first airplane with 125 people on board took off from Lyon, while a second with 158 people took off shortly thereafter from Paris.
French authorities report that since the start of 2010, France has repatriated 8 313 Roma. Last year 9 875 were repatriated. This deportation of Roma to their home countries is taking place even as Romanian state secretary Valentin Mocanu, whose agenda includes the issue of Roma, and Romanian state secretary Dan Valentin Fatuloiu, whose agenda includes public security, are meeting officials in Paris.
This intensification of French security policy, which was announced at the end of July by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, has become the target of numerous criticisms in France, both from the right and from the opposition Socialists. The Council of Europe and the Vatican have also criticized it.
On the other hand, on Wednesday the Bulgarian government expressed its understanding of the repatriation of Roma. The European Commission has also expressed both an understanding of the repatriation and a certain uneasiness about it.
France says it is proceeding in accordance with EU regulations when repatriating Roma who stay in France for more than three months without working. At the same time, the country claims the majority of these repatriations are voluntary.
Roma who agree to leave France are provided EUR 300 per adult and EUR 100 per child. Many Roma say they were forced to leave and immediately return to France.