Having previously advised that the EU Commission would have no choice but to instigate infringement proceedings against France in respect of recent deportations of Roma people, it now seems that the Commission may not proceed with legal proceedings expressly based ban on discrimination in the EC Treaty and the Free Movement Directive.

The Roma people who have been deported from France are from Bulgaria and Romania and accordingly citizens of the European Union. This has raised not only the question of human rights violations but also of freedom of movement and discrimination under EU law. Vice-President Reding had previously advised that proceedings could be taken on the bases of (a) discriminatory application of the Free Movement Directive; and (b) lack of transposition of the procedural and substantive guarantees under the Free Movement Directive.

To view Vice-President Reding’s statement on the matter please click here.

The European Parliament had previously passed a resolution calling on the French government to “immediately suspend all expulsions of Roma”, noting that under EU law restrictions on freedom of movement can be imposed “solely on the basis of personal conduct, and not of general considerations of prevention or ethnic or national origin.” The Parliament expressed regret at the late response by the EU Commission on the matter.

However, the Commission has decided to threaten a less controversial legal action against France for not having correctly transposed the Free Movement Directive into national legislation. This will have interesting fallout in the light of the fact that France is by no means alone – a number of member states have not transposed the Directive at all. The decision effectively allows France to continue dismantling encampments provided that those to be expelled are treated as individuals and not members of a group. France has two weeks to consider what action to take to respond to the Commission’s proposals.

To view the UK human rights blog article please click here.

Meanwhile Commissioner Hammarberg has introduced a new Roma Rights Page on his website, in which he noted “a shameful lack of implementation concerning the human rights of Roma, the biggest minority group in Europe, throughout the continent” and observed “Roma continue to suffer from pervasive discrimination in all fields of life. Anti-Gypsyism feeds the cycle of their exclusion, disadvantage, segregation and marginalisation. Rhetoric occasionally used by public figures and the media has contributed to further marginalisation and extremism against Roma, including alarming levels of violence and abuse by law enforcement officials”.

To view the webpage please click here.