Magazine article European Social Policy

Integration : Roma: Sarkozy's Followers Lash out at Reding

Magazine article European Social Policy

Integration : Roma: Sarkozy's Followers Lash out at Reding

Article excerpt

On the eve of the 16 September summit of EU heads of state and government, the angry attack by Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding on French expulsions of Roma from Bulgaria and Romania - and especially on the concealment of certain information by Paris - sparked numerous reactions. Paris accused Commissioner Reding of "over-reacting" with her remark that the treatment of Roma in France is a "disgrace" and unequalled in Europe since the Second World War.

According to senators from his political group, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has suggested that Luxembourg, the commissioner's country, take in the Roma. "He said our policy was the right one and that it is scandalous - and he will make a statement tomorrow [at the European Council on 16 September - Ed] - for Europe to express such views on what France does," reported the Senator for Haute-Marne, Bruno Sido. "It is not our aim to create a controversy either with the Commission or with Parliament. However, certain remarks are simply not acceptable," the Elysee is also reported to have added, in a more appeasing tone.

Early on 15 September, Chantal Brunel, MP and spokeswoman for the UMP, said on Belgian radio RTBF that "France is a sovereign nation. It does not need moralising from a commissioner who represents a small country [Luxembourg] with 350,000 inhabitants. We are a large country with 57 million inhabitants". French State Secretary for European Affairs Pierre Lellouche declared on RTL: "I cannot allow Mrs Reding to say that the France of 2010, in its handling of the Roma issue, is the France of Vichy. It is out of place to speak of the Second World War. No, Roissy Airport is not Beaune-la-Rolande or Drancy". The "lumping together" by certain public figures of the expulsion of Roma and the Nazi regime's deportations is "monstrous," declared the French Ambassador for Human Rights, Francois Zimeray. …

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