The two visiting French ministers, Manuel Valls and Bernard Cazeneuve have signed a two year deal with the Romanian Government to deport Roma from France to Romania on a voluntary basis.
Described as a pilot scheme, the agreement signed yesterday (September 12 ) will begin with the repatriation of around 80 Roma families currently living in France. French Interior Minister Manuel Valls and European Affairs Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who were in Romania meeting country officials on Wednesday (September 12 ) were urged by human rights groups to “avoid hypocrisy” before their meeting with Romanian officials yesterday.
For Romania, the agreement was signed by Labor Minister Mariana Campeanu and Interior Minister Mircea Dusa ( all in picture).
Manuel Valls has continued the previous French administration’s policy of forced break up of Roma camps and deportations, widely criticized by human rights groups, such as Amnesty International and the European Roma Rights Centre. “Our joint efforts should be focused on a solution in which the Roma settle in their country of origin, Romania,” said Valls, quoted by Reuters. French police have recently broken up camps near Paris, Lyon and Lille and there have already been reports of deportations. Valls has defended the actions on “health grounds,” according to Reuters.
Romania’s PM Victor Ponta was involved in the talks, which raise some questions on alignment with EU citizenship policy. As the Roma concerned mostly originate from Romania and Bulgaria, an estimated 15,000 – 20,000 currently in France, according to Reuters, they automatically hold EU citizenship. The European Commission’s (EC) policy on citizenship is clear and unequivocal.
“Any person who holds the nationality of an EU country is automatically also an EU citizen,” reads the EC citizenship policy. Citizenship entails the right to “move and reside freely within the EU.” The word “voluntary” in the pilot scheme is key, but it could be a seen as a way to get around legislation without being in the spirit of the EU’s policy on citizenship. Just how “voluntary” the repatriations are remains to be seen.
Liam Lever, firstname.lastname@example.org
(photo source: gov.ro)