France May Be Censured For Deporting The Roma

The French are facing harsh criticism for their deportation of the Roma (gypsies), mostly from within the European Union.  Since July, France has expelled more than 1,000 Roma to Bulgaria and Romania from illegal camps, and the rest of the population, which numbers more than 15,000, may be threatened.  France claims that the departures are voluntary because the Roma have been receiving small payments in exchange for leaving the country, although many Roma have vowed to return legally.  However, because freedom of movement and non-discrimination are embedded within EU rules, France’s decision is under scrunity.

Today, though, 337 European MPs passed a strongly-worded resolution, calling on the French to suspend their deportation immediately.  They also demanded that the European Commission and EU governments work harder to integrate the Roma, many of whom are deeply impoverished, into European life.  The French claim that they are making decisions about expulsion on a case-by-case basis, but the MPs wrote in the resolution that they were “deeply concerned in particular at the inflammatory and openly discriminatory rhetoric that has characterised political discourse during the repatriations of Roma.”

Essentially, other Europeans are concerned that racism is at work, and they are probably right.  The Roma certainly fled discrimination in coming to France; after Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU, they began to move throughout the EU, both as a result of Romania’s austerity measures and the fact that a last year, a study revealed that 7 out of 10 Romanians would not accept a Roma as part of their family.  The Roma enter France on three-month work permits, which are only extended if the holder has a job or can prove that they are not a “social burden.” 

Discrimination is familiar to the Roma, who have suffered in Europe for centuries.  As recently as 2008, Romani women were subjected to forced sterilization, and Roma communities are routinely denied access to electricity and running water.  A Romani settlement was burned down in Naples in May of 2008, and in the Czech Republic, two-thirds of Romani children are placed in remedial programs for dysfunctional students. 

If the European Commission decides that the French violated EU law by engaging in these deportations, it can censure France, or even take France to the European Court of Justice.  The question, though, remains – will France listen, and how strongly do Europeans feel about enforcing non-discrimination against this marginalized ethinc group?  They certainly don’t have a great track record, but this could be their opportunity to turn things around.

Photo from Flickr.

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86 comments

Jane R.
Jane R.5 years ago

People who are in any country illegally should be deported.

Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y.5 years ago

It's useful to remember that Nazi Germany also discriminated against gypsies, Jews, homosexuals etc. Also that many European countries have a long and pretty bad history of discrimination against gypsies and Jews.

So even if these modern-day Roma are squatters in France, any European country should be VERY careful about their treatment. What kind of precedent would it set - that it's OK to let the horrible prejudices of the ancient past loose?

Tatiana T.
M B.5 years ago

You cannot seriously expect a country to welcome a group of people with open arms, if they are not willing to find a legitimate job and pay taxes like the rest of society. No-one should tolerate them having to "mooch" off society and get by on criminal, underhanded activities. The majority of Roma across Europe are fine, they hold down legit job and are contributing members of society. These ones that refuse to "assimilate"and were to be deported are parasites in society.

Irina Seifert
Irina Seifert5 years ago

. I don't understand, why you call sending the illegal people to their's country of origin "discrimination". Is it to live in Romania or Bulgaria "discrimination"? The gypsies dont belong to the life in France at all.

Mara S.
Mara S.5 years ago

Sorry Edward... The entire Europe is fed up with ..parasitism.

You better get a second job and send the money to the gypsies. They can't hold a job and you fully support that.

Edward M.
Edward M.5 years ago

Censured? They should be thrown out of the European Union.

Mara S.
Mara S.5 years ago

Ahh... Romanticism. It's called evolution and survival. Life is getting harder for everybody. We multiplied brainlessly, destroyed nature, resources, etc.
Why would you preffer some people to wonder around with no duties and responsabilities and force others to stay put and...accept them?
We would all love to wonder around. It's just not possible.

Let's blame the hard working ones. We should all join the circus.

Vicky L.
Vicky L.5 years ago

Is there anyplace for them to go? The world (incl. the so-civilized EU) is increasingly hostile to nomadic lifestyle. It's been for a long time and that's why Roma can't sustain themselves other than by parasitic practices.

Low Key
Lucian Lendel5 years ago

I know this issue first hand, and I want to tell the generous hearts here that there is no discrimination that I know of. The issues everyone has with the Roma are their criminal activities, theft, agressive panhandling, largely a cultural conflict between working citizens and people chosing to live like parasites at the cost of the former.
Not all the Roma individuals are in this category, but there is a majority that sets the tone.
As for "forced sterilization", and "Roma communities are routinely denied access to electricity and running water", I have never heard of such a thing. I would be interested to know where the article gathered this information. Is there any proof of this? Please post some references, if you are going to make such drastic accusations.
There are efforts made to integrate the Roma into the culture and the way of life of the countries in question. Those who integrate are facing no discrimination.
Thos who don't integrate are facing the same "discrimination" that thieves, criminals and parasites are facing everywhere, since this is what they do.
The problem is not simple by any means. And I am sure that when these Roma gain free entry in North America, many people will have a better understanding of the challenges it poses.

Isabel C.
Isabel C.5 years ago

I really believe that any country has the right to its own laws and should have the ability to choose whom it wishes to live within its borders, whatever the unelected members of the EU Commision say.