Thursday, 16 September 2010

“Romagate”: France exposed and Reding rising

After the exposure and then the reactions from Nicolas Sarkozy, Pierre Lellouche, Eric Besson and Chantal Brunel (to name a few), it is refreshing to find that some want to evaluate the actions of the French government on the merits of the case.

What makes it even more honourable is that the Swedish MEP Gunnar Hökmark (Moderaterna) sits in the EPP group with the French president’s party Union pour un mouvement populaire (UMP).

Hökmark says that the Commission has made a legal assessment of the expulsion of Roma by France. The next step is the Court, but the Commission’s account leaves few doubts about France’s guilt. The French government and president cannot reject that as party political attacks. France will have to live with the coming judgment.

Michael Malherbe thinks about Reding’s speech from a communication perspective. What makes it such a success?

Her message is readable, clear, credible and non-partisan, says Malherbe (in French) on Se former à la communication européenne: Quelles sont les raisons du succès de la déclaration de Viviane Reding sur la situation de Roms en France ? (14 September 2010).

The European Union seldom offers the public drama like this: Official lies, racial targeting exposed, Commission finally embracing action, blustering counter-attacks. No wonder that Eurobloggers on and elsewhere have been busy writing about “Romagate”.

Andrew J Burgess, on the blog La Treizième Étoile, presented commissioner Viviane Reding’s message to the French government, and concluded that the Commission is mandated to uphold European law as laid down by EU treaties, and thus it could hardly keep “schtum” (silent).

According to Gulf Stream Blues it was obvious all along that the French government was targeting Roma (gypsies) as a group, but the leaked internal memo made a big difference legally. However, the American writer is shocked by the casual racism towards Roma in many European countries. In times of economic trouble, people have a tendency to look for scapegoats.

Charlemagne’s notebook discusses the reasons for the change of tone, given the Commission’s caution when Roma were being evicted from Italy last year: Reding and the riot act (14 September 2010).

Reding said what the whole world expected from José Manuel Barroso’s speech on the state of the Union regarding the Roma, says Matizandrea’s Blog (in Italian): Super Reding contro Sarkò (14 September 2010). He ends by quoting a tweet from Reding: Discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin or race has no place in Europe.

On Myeurop, Jean-Sébastien Lefebvre had already presented the background, including the the (astonishing) first media reactions by Pierre Lellouche and Eric Besson. Lefebvre agrees with Jean Quatremer that Reding should have spoken French, but not for reasons of national pride. Most of the French aren’t that good at English, so she should have spoken directly to the French people. Being closer to her audience would have turned her victory into a triumph.

On the Euros du Village blog for Les Européens du Grand Lille, Vivien Sierens shows the shocking and populist language the French president has used, rejecting the republican values, when he stigmatised the Roma population and described them as illegals, although most of them are EU citizens: Roms : la Commission contre-attaque. Indignation gives way to a duty to act when the presidential rhetoric is transformed into administrative letters targeting an ethnic group.

Anne-Marie Blajan, on Menaru (in Romanian), comments more on Quatremer’s indignation due to the use of English, than to the issue of mass repatriation.

Given the multiple scandals brewing, The European Tribune community has picked up and translated a presentation by Arrêts sur images of France as a “rogue state” or “-stan”. It is time for French media to call a cat a cat, a racist a racist and a liar a liar. - You are in for a treat.

Socialist politician (PSOE) Carlos Carnero González made a brief return from the political scene in Madrid to write a note on commissioner Viviane Reding’s statement - Europa se mueve (15 September 2010) – with a link to El País, which has more details.

Ralf Grahn