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EU threatens legal action against France over Roma expulsion

The European Commission [official website] warned France Wednesday that the country would face disciplinary proceedings and potential legal action if it did not follow EU regulations in its relations with Roma [JURIST news archive] migrants. The warning was delivered by letter [Guardian report], which stated that France needed to abide by the 2004 Directive on Free Movement [Directive 2004/38/EC materials] and incorporate it into its laws. The Commission issued a statement [text] naming freedom of movement as one of the fundamental principles of the EU and stated that France needed to provide "draft transposition measures" and a "detailed transposition schedule" regarding the directive by October 15. The letter also included questions regarding assurances France provided to the Commission that recent laws and measures taken by authorities were not intended to single out a specific ethnic minority, but treated all citizens equally. The Commission reiterated that the integration of the Roma people was a common responsibility among all EU members and stated that it will review the policies of other countries to ensure that they are abiding by the 2004 directive. The Commission also stated that the recently formed Roma Task Force will continue to monitor European efforts to integrate the Roma and will present framework for an integration strategy by next April.

This news comes the day after Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] urged EU members to stop forcibly deporting Roma migrants to Kosovo [JURIST report]. Also on Tuesday, France's National Assembly [official website, in French] began considering a new bill that would make it easier to deport illegal immigrants and strip immigrants accused of violent crimes of their French citizenship. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] criticized the bill because it targets minority populations, particularly the Roma. Earlier this month, the EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Viviane Reding [official profile] threatened legal action [JURIST report] against France for its deportation of Roma, calling the intitiave "a disgrace." Also this month, more than 100,000 people in 130 cities across France protested [JURIST report] the security policies of President Nicolas Sarkozy [official website, in French], including his decision to deport [JURIST reports] the illegal Roma. In August, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination [official website] unveiled a review [JURIST report] of France's compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) [text]. The report raised questions about draft legislation that would strip naturalized citizens of citizenship for committing certain crimes and the decision to dismantle 300 unauthorized Roma encampments.

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