EurActiv.com Correspondent's Choice

This story about the expulsions of Roma from France was published by EurActiv on 19th August 2010.

The European Commission is following very closely France’s dealings with its Roma, who the authorities are planning to expel in groups, Commission representatives said yesterday (18 August), after being asked by the Brussels press whether the expulsions were in line with EU legislation.

EU countries have the right to take security measures regarding foreigners residing on their territory, but “we’re following the situation with great attention,” Commission spokesperson Amelia Torres said.

Torres said two commissioners were dealing with the issue – Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Commissioner Viviane Reding and Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Commissioner László Andor.

Today (19 August), France begins to expel around 700 Roma, mostly from Romania and Bulgaria, who are living illegally in the country, the French press reported. On 28 July, French President Nicolas Sarkozy launched a new anti-crime initiative targeting the “itinerant population,” with a particular emphasis on the Roma community.

Immigration Minister Eric Besson said 79 Roma, who have agreed to return home in exchange for 300 euros for adults and 100 euros for minors, will board a charter flight bound for the Romanian capital Bucharest on Thursday.

He said police had so far dismantled 51 illegal Roma camps and two flights would take the Roma to Romania and Bulgaria on 19 and 26 August, with a third flight set for the end of September.

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