The European Parliament has debated the recent actions of the French government removing Roma from France and will tomorrow vote on a resolution sponsored by the liberal ALDE group condemning the discriminatory nature of the Sarkozy government's policies and rhetoric.
Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford, who has long campaigned on Roma issues, said:
"Sarkozy is clearly playing the race card for electoral reasons in his 'voluntary expulsion' policy of bribes for Roma to leave. Targetting and stigmatising Roma people as an ethnic group and scapegoating them as criminals is totally against EU law."
"EU law allows restrictions on individual residence rights under the 'Free Movement' Directive. It of course does not prevent legitimate tackling of insanitary camps. But the European Commission must decide if France is committing illegal collective expulsion and if so, take appropriate legal action."
"The continuing poverty, disadvantage and marginalisation of the 10-12 million Roma across Europe is a disgrace to our continent. The Commission should check whether the billions of euros given to EU states with large Roma populations have been effectively spent, but in addition the EU as a whole needs an urgent Roma integration strategy with top-level political support."