Wednesday, 15 September 2010

France expelling EU citizens: European voices

Yesterday, I tried to concentrate my view of commissioner Viviane Reding’s speech to the European press and the French government’s words and deeds concerning Roma expulsions into a short blog post.

Many have reacted, some long before and some later. Here are a few voices from the European online public sphere.

More than three weeks ago, Vihar Georgiev on European Union Law asked if the expulsion of Roma is legal, describing the rights and limitations under the two applicable legal systems: EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights (23 August 2010).

On 8 September 2010 Georgiev wrote a follow-up post, where he noted the heated debate in the European Parliament and the Commission’s failure to provide a clear answer. Yesterday he commented on commissioner Reding’s strong statement and the need for European politicians to grasp the importance of the legal foundation of the European Union.

Alphia Abdikeeva wrote on the blog of the Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos (CIDH), which is based in Spain: A ghost of racism in Europe (9 September 2010). She noted the acts and popularity of Nicolas Sarkozy, Thilo Sarrazin, Geert Wilders, Barbara Rosenkranz and Silvio Berlusconi to conclude that something is seriously wrong with the political climate across Europe. Is xenophobia the political mainstream, accurately expressing what the European public thinks?

Eva Peña on Eva en Europa published a blog post in Catalan: França portada als tribunals per la UE? (14 September 2010). In an unprecedented move, commissioner Reding has confirmed the position of the European Commission as the guardian of the Treaties, which enshrine the free movement of all citizens of the European Union. She wonders why the government of president Nicolas Sarkozy has ignored the warnings.

The French Foreign Ministry (Quai d’Orsay) has never admitted the existence of the European Union, or at least its binding rules, says Mieux connaître vos droits en Europe (in French), but discusses much more in at least three detailed blog posts: Affaire ROM/France : Complément au billet précédent, another Affaire ROM/France and ... derniers episodes du feuilleton … (14 September 2010)

On the basis of an introduction by Colman, The European Tribune community discussed French government incomprehension at outside criticism of its targeted deportation of Roma migrants: Cry me a river. Try to resist herding immigrants into it. (14 September 2010). The tone was set by the remark “Imagine being criticised for exploiting racism for short-term political gain”, referring to the French Minister for Europe, Pierre Lellouche.

The discussion brought to light the contradiction between Silvio Berlusconi’s earlier exploits in Italy and the attention president Sarkozy’s government is getting for similar actions in France. During the discussion, the situation unfolded, from a first news alert to commissioner Reding’s statement.

A great day for Europe, says Desde Bruselas when Viviane Reding finally stated that the Commission had no alternative but to commence infringement procedures against France (in Spanish): Por fin! Parece que la comisión iniciará un proceso de infracción contra Francia (14 September 2010).


I am not overly surprised by the populist law-and-order drive or the utter disregard for common European values and rules by the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy, but I wonder how Bernard Kouchner – known for his humanitarian and human rights work – can remain a member of that government, as its Minister of Foreign and European Affairs.

Ralf Grahn