EurActiv.com Correspondent's Choice

This story about French accusations of Romania dumping its Roma was published by EurActiv on 1st September 2010.

Romania should not interpret freedom of movement in the EU as a right to get rid of its Roma at the expense of other countries, Pierre Lellouche, the French state secretary for European affairs, told the press yesterday (31 August) in Brussels, triggering a strong reaction from Bucharest.

In a packed French press room in the EU Council building, where many journalists were sitting on the floor, Lellouche appeared before the Brussels press alongside Eric Besson, French minister for immigration, integration, national identity and mutually-supportive development.

Both had just come from meetings with European commissioners Viviane Reding and Cecilia Malmström to discuss the Roma controversy (see EurActiv 27/08/10 for more information). TV footage from Euronews showed the French ministers appearing before of something that looked like a court, chaired by Reding and Malmström.

Lellouche started by lamenting that ever since Romania and Bulgaria’s EU accession in 2007, in his capacity as elected representative of the Paris region he had been forced to seek local and national responses to the “immediate consequences” of the Roma arrivals.

“It’s a very painful problem that I live with every day in my own electoral district,” he said.

In his capacity as state secretary for European affairs, he explained that he had immediately taken up the issue at EU level. But he lamented the lack of a response from others, adding that he was the only minister to attend the European Roma Summit, held last April in Cordoba, and said he had asked the Romanian authorities himself to appoint a state secretary for Roma integration.

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