In recent weeks, the government of Nicolas Sarkozy has evicted more than 1,000 Roma residents from their encampments in France and deported them to Bulgaria and Romania. Now,the European Union has called France's recent crackdown on Gypsy communities "a disgrace," The Guardian reports.
This was a U-turn for the EU, which had previously been mum on the evictions. The reason for the about face? A leaked French document seeming to show that Sarkozy had ordered local authorities to target Roma residents.
"Three hundred camps or illegal settlements must be evacuated within three months; Roma camps are a priority," the memo says. "It is down to the préfect [state representative] in each department to begin a systematic dismantling of the illegal camps, particularly those of the Roma."
If this truly represents official French policy, it would be unconstitutional and a violation of EU rules that block ethnic discrimination in member countries.
In response, French officials have noted that twice as many Roma were deported in 2009 as have been sent out of the country so far in 2010. "Free movement in the European area doesn't mean free settlement," France's immigration minister, Eric Besson, added. "What has been forgotten is that each of the European countries is responsible for its own national citizens."