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Andrei Tuch
IT/translator (Estonia)

Technical writer, freelance translator, occasional journalist, all too rarely blogger, wannabe exegete.


Intra-EU Deportation: France Minus Roma

Published 19th August 2010 - 20 comments - 5821 views -

The EU Observer reports today on France deporting some of its Roma residents:

In a move that has given President Nicolas Sarkozy a bump in opinion polls, the government has ordered the destruction of some 300 Roma settlements which were constructed without permission, and the expulsion from the country of a number of gypsies and their repatriation to Romania.

 This is about as mild as a deportation gets, though: according to the same reports, adults get a €300 compensation for getting on the plane, and children get €100. And Bucharest is less than three hundred euros' worth of petrol away:

...European law allows for the free movement of EU citizens anywhere in the bloc's 27 member states. Despite the expulsions, there is nothing to prevent the individuals from heading back to France the very next day.

On closer inspection, this is really no more than a PR stunt from the French government: over the three flights, only 5% of the country's estimated Roma population are being sent back.

 Paris for its part maintains that it is indeed in compliance with European rules. Foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told AFP news agency European law "expressly allows for restrictions on the right to move freely for reasons of public order, public security and public health".

I don't suppose this lends much credibility to Europe's image of a tolerant, welcoming place. Still, if you're going to have a disliked minority in your community, a voluntary relocation with compensation is not the worst way of resolving the situation. And Paris is following a somewhat established precedent.

Is this something Europe should be ashamed of? Is this our internal matter, and no business of anyone outside our borders? Is it an example of successfully buying yourself out of a potential conflict before it escalates? Or is it just a stupid publicity stunt, of the kind that ought not be practiced by a statesman with ambitions of leading Europe?


BONUS: Soundtrack for this story below. Warning for somewhat explicit lyrics.

Category: Politics | Tags:


  • Carmen Paun on 19th August 2010:

    If you ask me, Andrei, I think France is throwing money out with this deportation. This is not the first time it has happened. The Roma people go home for free, visit their families with 300 Euros in their pockets and then plan their trip back to France. How is this helping France?
    As one of my friend was saying, the European Union gives a huge proof of hypocrisy now. While the European Commission is organising huge conferences in Brussels about integrating the Roma, France, one of the founding member states of the EU, is sending Romas back to Romania. Flying these people out from a country to the other it’s a great integration… maybe for the airlines that are getting public money for this. How is France integrating Romas? How is France leading Europe in this?
    And do they have proofs that all the people they are sending back to Romania have committed crimes in France?
    I think this is incredibly shameful for France and for the European Union.

  • Iwona Frydryszak on 19th August 2010:

    I think it is much more complexed issue. It’s true what you said Carmen that European Union pumps a lot of money in discussion about Roma but also funds from which they can benefit directlly. The problem is that some of Roma people are smart how to use this system of aid or social system and don’t want to change in the way Commission, goverments or NGOs would like them to change. And those smart one makes the imagine of all community. Another point is that whatever you will do or say against Roma you are rasist and xenophob…

  • Carmen Paun on 19th August 2010:

    I know Iwona, I agree with you. The integration has to be also a process from bottom up and many Roma communities refuse to integrate because they fear of assimilation into the culture of the place they live in. And yes, there are many that know how to take advantage of the generous social systems. Being a minority that is discriminated against can be profitable in such cases.

  • Hussam Hussein on 19th August 2010:

    As far as I know, according to EuroActiv and other EU press blogs, EU citizen can travel freely but have to register and have a permit in order to live in a country for more than 3 months. And I read that the Roma population, at least those that will be sent back home, were “illigally living” in France. According to your question, carmen, whetehr they committed a crime or not, the EU law does not mention it, but simply say that a country can limit the free movement of a single person because of publico order, security , or health reasons. That means that they do not have to have committed crimes.
    I think it may be shameful for France (France is responsible for it) and not for the European Union. As a matter of fact, the EU has previously tried to discourage France from doing it, but still, it is a french competence. Therefore now the EU is monitoring that France is not breaking the EU law, in particular becauese the EU legislation requires each case to be examined individually.

  • Carmen Paun on 19th August 2010:

    Dear Hussam, thanks for making that clear for everybody. Now I have lived in Belgium for 3 months without registering and nobody deported me. I guess I was not being a public or health threat to anybody though.
    I still think it is shameful for the European Union because it shows how huge disparities are between the policies of the Commission and the policies of the member states. And we are not talking about any member state of the EU, but about France who, whether we want to admit it or not, is one of the countries that does the games of the EU Council. I am also wondering how many of the Romas sent back to Romania where examined on a case to case basis.
    And,if France wants to make a statement, they should be smarter than that. Paying each adult 300 Euros and putting them on a plane to Romania is just like I would eat a lot today in order to make sure I am not hungry anymore tomorrow.

  • Iwona Frydryszak on 19th August 2010:

    Carmen, first of all you need to remember that “I would eat a lot today in order to make sure I am not hungry anymore tomorrow” - perfectly describes the culture of Roma people. That’s way there is such a big problem of loan sharking which make an advantage on the Roma cultural and attitude to life which is “I don’t care about future”. Secondlly, They come from new-EU-member, which means that they cannot use all the rules that are available for old members. There are different rules and even Polish citizens cannot just come to France and start looking for a job. We need to wait few years that labour market will be fully open for as as for citizen of France or Belgium.

  • Iwona Frydryszak on 19th August 2010:

    More interested in Roma, read my post from yesterday about Stateless Roma

  • Carmen Paun on 19th August 2010:

    @ Iwona: I am not sure whether not thinking about the future defines so well the Roma culture. Romanian ethnics do think that but I am trying not to judge all the Romas through the same lenses. Just like in any community, there are people who do want to plan their earnings and their spendings and want to give their children a better life than the one they had. But they need education and a prospect for the future.
    As for the policy towards the citizens of new EU member states: I did experience it on my own skin here in Belgium. I was job hunting one time and I saw how employers would just refuse to consider you for an interview because they didn’t want go to through the hassle of obtaining a work permit for you. And the policy of Bulgarians and Romanians needing work permit to work in Belgium will be in place until the end of 2011 at least. So I know that Roma people can’t just go and settle down wherever they want just like that, even if they are EU citizens.
    France has the right to protect its territory and its citizens, but maybe they should do it in a smarter way and truly efficient way. And if the whole EU does want to integrate the Roma people, maybe all member states should agree to work together for that and not apply the policy; they are your citizens, you deal with them and integrate them.  It is just not going to work and we might find ourselves in 5 years talking about the same topic as now.

  • Helena Goldon on 20th August 2010:

    Recently my friend asked me which country I considered the heart of Europe.
    ‘France’ - I replied.
    ‘French Revolution’ - I explained - ‘Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité’
    ‘Good enough’

    I think I am to change my mind.

  • Hussam Hussein on 20th August 2010:

    Helena, in my case I would reply saying that the heart of Europe is France. You can change your mind.
    For me Europe is a club, where everyone is member and has the same important. I would say that the heart of Europe is in the 6 EU countries that started it, nicluding Benelux, Italy, Germany, as well as France. Putting the enphasis only on France, doesn’t make sense..

  • Helena Goldon on 20th August 2010:

    Hussam, isn’t for you however the Roma people deportation quite disappointing having in mind the ideals of the French Revolution?

  • Hussam Hussein on 20th August 2010:

    only because of the French revolution? if it was made by Germany or Italy would have been for you less disappointing?
    That’s what I don’t understand, if something for you is disappointing, it should be so in any case and in any European country. I don’t see France as morally superior to the other EU country. And if you see France as the heart of Europe, just remember that it was because of France that the UK had to wait until the beginning of the ‘60 to join the European Communities..

  • Helena Goldon on 20th August 2010:

    No, if it was by Germany or Italy it would be EXACTLY SAME DISAPPOINTING. Just that in the case of France the decision sounds more ‘perverse’ in the historical context.

    The discussion of what is the heart of Europe was in the context of Bahai faith and the Bahai belief to locate temples in the heart of each continent. Consequently, they located their European temple in Germany and that’s when I expressed my view that France might have been more of a spiritual heart of Europe than Germany.

  • Iwona Frydryszak on 20th August 2010:

    Well, Roma is not the only community that very treaten in nit very politicall correctly way. What about immigrants from Africa? And what about Haiti and open letter calls on France to pay back “independence debt” released few days ago sign by Noam Chomsky Naomi Klein for exemple:
    for Helena:,75248,8257523,Czy_Francuzi_zaplaca_za_wymuszone_od_Haiti_90_mln.html

  • Iwona Frydryszak on 20th August 2010:

    and the case about paying Roma for moving from their homes exists also inside the countries as well. check this one from Czech Republic:

  • Andrei Tuch on 20th August 2010:

    Let’s not forget that the French Revolution involved the execution of everyone who was ideologically different from the winning side.

  • Andrei Tuch on 20th August 2010:

    open letter calls on France to pay back “independence debt”

    That sort of thing surprises me. Europe’s external efforts are based on our values and our views of the best way to treat people in the world; we’re rich enough to afford to fund these efforts. That’s good.

    No Haitian alive today has been a French slave. No Frenchman alive today has been a slave-owner in Haiti. By all means, remember history - but treat people according to their actions, not the actions of their ancestors.

    Do Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky think it is appropriate to make Nazi jokes in the faces of today’s Germans as well?

  • Helena Goldon on 20th August 2010:

    @ Andrei: Yes, I don’t question that. And I do remember Vendée.
    But still the ideas of French Revolution vanish against the Roma people deportation and all the other incidents enlisted by Iwona.

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