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The French government scolded on the Roma

A pilot village in Lille. The European Commission considers that this example deserves to be developed. There are "too few" (credit: Lille Métropole)
A pilot village in Lille. The European Commission considers that this example deserves to be developed. There are "too few" (credit: Lille Métropole)

(BRUSSELS2) On a sports field when the situation gets out of hand, the referee blows his whistle and summons the captains of the two teams to lecture them. That's kind of what happened today. On the Roma affair, while French governments follow one another, government and opposition compete in positions more ultra than each other, the European Commission intervened to recall some truths...

It is relatively rare to be reported and we have rarely seen such detailed explanations given. Or rather, as Olivier Bailly, spokesperson for the European Commission, explained to the daily press briefing, " some clarifications » in a debate where there is « voluntary or unintentional and involuntary confusion on European rules and principles. Nicely shot to explain that French politicians, from different sides, say a little nonsense on the subject, on the back of Europe, without being called to order! It is therefore a real lesson in fundamental rights that has thus been taught, thus following the path traced by the Vice-President of the Commission and Commissioner for Justice, Viviane Reding, on France Info this morning.

1. The free movement of citizens is a " fundamental right for all citizens of the Member States whether they are Romanian, Bulgarian, British or French, in all the Member States of the Union ". " A fundamental freedom enshrined in the Treaties since 1958. A right acclaimed by all citizens, in all Eurobarometers He adds.

2. TheSchengen area. " Within this freedom, the Member States have developed Schengen”, which makes it possible to relax certain controls inside the Union and harmonizes them outside. Romania and Bulgaria are not part of the Schengen area. This is not for lack of a proposal from the European Commission. For the European executive, " it's clear, these two states fulfill the technical conditions to enter Schengen. But it is the Member States which are not " not unanimous to approve this blocking measure. " The fact that Romania and Bulgaria are not members of Schengen does not prevent free movement of citizens. The only restriction is that they may undergo border checks” (like the British for that matter).

3. The freedom to work is currently limited. Transitional periods have, in fact, been put in place allowing restrictions to be maintained for certain workers or all workers in Romania and Bulgaria. 8 countries (France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, United Kingdom and Spain have enacted such restrictions in a more or less partial way. France has thus opened up certain professions (298 in France) These restrictions should all be removed by 1er January 2014. " Romania and Bulgaria are not entering the Schengen Zone in 2014, it is the restrictions that are disappearing”.

freedom to reside is free for all European citizens (Romanians and Bulgarians included). But after 3 months you have to be able to prove your means of subsistence, “ so as not to be a burden on the community of this country ».

Penalties are possible. " If these rules of law are not respected, the European Commission will use the means at its disposal.

6° On theRoma integration, the Commission considers that this is not within its competence. " The Commission does not have the possibility of judging or evaluating the will to integrate or not, a right that every citizen has or does not have. And to add: “European competences in terms of social integration are limited, there are rules of cooperation but most of the instruments are financial. »

7 ° Of european funds are available (social, regional, rural). They are " at the discretion of the Member States if they use this possibility ". But to know how much European money is available for the Roma in France, it is difficult, the (French) rule prohibiting to target a group more particular than another in certain measures. What we do know is that at least 53 projects have been identified in the Social Fund, for an amount of at least 4 million euros. Integration villages (as in Lille or Saint Ouen) are " a good practice that does not go far enough. There are only a few examples. We would like to multiply them within the framework of the national strategy presented by France.”

If the money does not arrive, it is not Europe's fault. As Mr. Reding explained, " the strategy exists, European money is available, what is lacking are the projects at national level to allow the integration of Roma in France”. What is called a beautiful return to sender!

It should be noted that the Minister of the Interior Manuel Valls split a press release to explain that " Contrary to what has been reported, the European Commission, through Mrs Viviane Reding, speaking on the issue of European citizens of Roma origin, has never indicated that France does not comply with the European rules applicable in matters of free movement or residence of nationals of the European Union. (...) The Minister of the Interior carefully monitors compliance with European and national rules. » (...) He also points out " that the Romanian Government has repeatedly pointed out that the responsibility for the integration of Roma of Romanian nationality lies primarily with the Romanian authorities.»

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).