NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
ROMA: FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO LONDON RESPONDS
The French Embassy in London has responded to the concerns expressed by the Celtic League about the forced expulsion of Roma people from France which was this week the subject of an intervention by the EU Justice Commissioner.
The London Embassy’s response has come in tandem with a detailed reply to a similar protest to the French Embassy in Dublin.
The full text of the reply is set out below:
“AMBASSADE DE FRANCE LONDRES
London, 9 September 2010
Dear Mr Moffat,
In response to your letter on the Travellers and Roma situation, I would like to stress the following:
1. France is fully committed to the freedom of movement which is a major achievement of the EU for our peoples. Freedom of movement in the European Union mis a right. Yet it also entails responsibilities for all European citizens without exception.
Pursuant to Directive 2004/3 8/EC, any citizen of a European Union Member State may reside in France for the legally stipulated period of three months provided s/he does not become an unreasonable burden on the social assistance system and, nif s/he wishes to stay beyond this period, is able to show that s/he is a worker or has sufficient resources so as not to become a burden on the social assistance system and has comprehensive sickness insurance cover.
Under the very terms of the treaties and Directive 2004/38/EC, this freedom is therefore not absolute: it is subject to certain conditions and restrictions. Aside from compliance with the above-mentioned right of residence conditions, these restrictions also include the obligation to comply with the laws in force. Foreign nationals may be escorted to the border if they disturb public order.
Some European citizens today including, and it is a fact, some Romanian and Bulgarian citizens of Roma origin — are in breach of these conditions of residence.
2. Moreover, a not-inconsiderable number of these persons are victims of organised crime networks that force them — especially minors and old people — to beg and commit crimes.
It is therefore legitimate for the French government, as it would be for any other Member State in a similar situation, to take action to find a suitable response in cooperation with its European partners, primarily the Member States from which the people concerned originate. This also needs to be done in liaison with the European Commission and with its assistance. It is everyone’s responsibility, first and foremost their countries of origin, for the European Roma to be able to live in a stable and lawful environment. It is in these people’s interests.
3 .There is not a “Roma problem”, but there are European citizens, more disadvantaged than others, who are experiencing integration problems and warrant particular attention. Once again, this is everyone’s responsibility. Cooperation has to be the cornerstone of the assistance we should be able to give them.
In this regard, and given that a majority of the Roma currently concerned come from Romania, it is important to point up the cooperation gradually being set up between the French and Romanian authorities. Bernard Kouchner raises this issue at each of his meetings with his Romanian counterpart, and the Minister of State for European Affairs, Pierre Lellouche, has visited Romania twice in the last few months. These visits have led to the formation of a working group on migratory issues, leading to a programme of action in support of the Roma of Romania. The programme comprises three tracks:
– Step up operational resources to combat organised crime, of which the Roma are particularly victim, with minors being the most vulnerable;
– Make every effort to support the social integration of Roma in Romania, drawing, in particular, on the Community resources from which Romania already benefits;
– Work on the reintegration of those who have left France for Romania, especially under the voluntary return assistance measure. France will continue to financially support the social, vocational and educational reintegration projects for Roma who have returned to Romania.
In this context, France warmly welcomed the Romanian government’s appointment of Valentin Mocanu, Minister of State at the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Protection, to handle the social integration of the Roma. The visit to Paris by Mr Mocanu and Mr Fatuloiu, Romanian Minister of State, Head of the Public Order and Safety Department, to be followed by Mr Besson and Mr Lellouche’s visit to Romania in September, show the two countries’ shared determination to find the means to take strong practical measures in the interests of the Roma
It will be essential for the European Union and European Commission to provide assistance in the spirit of the first European Roma Summit organised by Bernard Kouchner under the French European Union Presidency on 16 September 2008 and second European Roma Summit held in Cordoba on 8 and 9 April 2010.
In line with the joint French-Romanian statement made at the Cordoba Summit, the Commission is called upon to step up its support in order to combat discrimination against the Roma and foster Roma integration in their countries of origin. And France can already say that she will of course totally support both the work of the future Hungarian European Union Presidency in the first
half of 2011, which has made this subject one of its priorities, and any initiatives it takes.
Meanwhile, it is not just in France that discrimination is being practiced against Roma/Travellers.
In the United Kingdom this week the Irish Chaplaincy in Britain (ICB) have published graphic detail of the forced expulsion of Travellers from a site at Basildon in Essex during which a 72 year old man had his nose fractured when he was smashed against a caravan and heavy plant was deployed to bulldoze sites despite the presence of young children.
A report including video can be found on the ICB site here:
Related articles on Celtic News here:
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a
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