Friday, September 3, 2010

Roma Controversy Intensifies at EU Level -- To What Effect on Future Policy?

Apart from perhaps a few glancing references, EurAmerican will leave the Roma deportation issue to other actors in the blogopshere (see Art Goldhammer's French Politics for extensive coverage of the issue and the crackling threads his posts inspire). But here's a significant development in the story from European Voice that is unfolding within the European Parliament itself and at other peaks of Europe's governing elite: 

"French expulsions of Roma will come under attack at the European Parliament next week. Four political groups will recommend a formal condemnation of Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, or his centre-right government. They will also demand a European Commission view on whether France has violated human rights and breached EU law over recent weeks.
"The Socialists and Democrats (S&D), the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), the Greens and the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) say they are “outraged” at the closure of camps and the return – including, in some cases, the forcible expulsion – of 900 Roma to Bulgaria and Romania."


"Viviane Reding, the European commissioner for justice, who tasked Commission legal experts with the study, presented a “preliminary analysis” to a meeting of European commissioners yesterday (1 September). She was assisted by Cecilia Malmström, the commissioner for home affairs, and László Andor, the commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion. The Commission has so far reserved its judgment, declining to endorse the programme launched by the French government in early August. 

"On Tuesday (31 August), Reding met Éric Besson, France's immigration minister, who insisted that the policy complies with EU law “in all its respects”. The same day, she met three Romanian junior ministers, who rejected French accusations that criminals were among the repatriated Roma. Separate talks between Pierre Lellouche, France's Europe minister, and MEPs from the civil liberties committee, also on Tuesday, were described by officials from the S&D group as an attempt to “whitewash” French actions. Lellouche hit back at MEPs' criticisms, calling some of them “scandalous”. He urged the Romanian government to improve integration of its Roma population."

And this: 

"Besson has invited the interior and immigration ministers of Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and the UK to a meeting in Paris on Tuesday – the same day as the Parliament debate. Roberto Maroni, Italy's interior minister, has called for the meeting to discuss the expulsion of Roma, which he favours, though Besson has not put the matter on the agenda." 

Coincidence, or savvy divide-and-conquer political strategizing? My money is definitely on the latter. 

The result of the parliament-level row could prove decisive in the EU's ideological chasm between national sovereignty and federalized governance -- with the chance to leave a huge stamp on Europe's future immigration and border policy. Cue more fiery discourse on the Turkish accession debate, or the spectre of Turkey's "dying flame" vis-a-vis EU membership... Watch this space.

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