Wednesday, 15 September 2010

France: How to help Europe close ranks against your country on Roma expulsions

Through and other sources I have tried to follow the voices of Europeans on justice commissioner Viviane Reding’s attempt to stem the tide of ethnically motivated collective expulsions of Roma from France.

Conor Slowey, The European Citizen, has steadfastly called for action from Commission president José Manuel Barroso, commissioner Reding and the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, in and open letter to them published in the blog entry Europe: Speak up on Rights and Citizenship! (5 August 2010), the blog post The Moral Authority of Europe (26 August 2010) and the latest entry The Commission bravely missed an opportunity to stay quiet (15 September 2010).

As a French citizen, Greg Henning is ashamed. On EU Weekly he asks for punishment for the government of France (in French): Punissez-nous, Punissez-nous ! (14 September 2010)

Journal du Marché Intérieur highlights the “virulent” language of the Commission’s press release before arriving at the two grounds for legal proceedings Reding has promised, in: Roms : la Commission en colère sur la France (14 September 2010).

On her EUobserver blog, Honor Mahony commented on the strong language of Reding’s speech, which had been “a long time coming”. After recording the lies and denial of basic principles of EU law by French government ministers, Mahony ended by saying that the commission has finally taken a stand, and filled the moral void that has been at the centre of the EU since this sorry – and dangerous – episode began.

Anne-Marie Blajan, on Menaru, offers a view from Romania, from where many of the Roma have gone to France. She comments on the policies of the French government, as well as on the difficulties to integrate the Roma, in: Despre romi, despre Comisia Europeana si despre noi, romanii (14 September 2010).

Mary Honeyball MEP (S&D group, UK Labour) congratulates Reding for her strong and outright condemnation of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s “totally indefensible expulsion” of Roma people from France: Commissioner Reding attacks Sarkozy on Roma expulsions (14 September 2010).

France one step closer to being indicted, Anders Selnes writes on Swedish Europabloggen, recording the false assurances by French ministers: Frankrike ett steg närmare EU-åtal (14 September 2010).

Yesterday Jean Quatremer joined the fray with a post where he called commissioner Reding’s statement a declaration of war, but he also explains the misleading statements by the French ministers and the arrogant and bombastic counter-attack by Pierre Lellouche against the resolution by the European Parliament: Roms: La Commission européenne accuse la France de discrimination raciale (14 September 2010). Instead of foolhardy wars of words with the Commission, France would better Europeanise the real problem of the Roma.

In a second post, Quatremer expends almost as much energy to lambast Reding for speaking English with the Brusslels press corps.

I would be more worried about the continuing stream of arrogant and insulting comments from president Sarkozy’s government and political party, such as still today by UMP spokesperson Chantal Brunel (via Fabien l’européen).

They could hardly have been more effective in isolating France and forcing even the unwilling member states to distance themselves from the its discredited government, if it had been their intention.

Ralf Grahn