The French government started sending back Roma people to Bulgaria and Romania over summer, after riots following the killing by the police of a young man member of the Roma minority. European Commissioner for Justice, Viviane Reding, expressed her concerns about the expulsions, noting a possible infringement of Community law, especially the right to free movement of EU citizens. A special bilateral meeting was organised on 31 August between Viviane Reding, Cecilia Malmström (European Commissioner for Home Affairs) and László Andor (European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) on the Commission side, and Eric Besson (Minister for Immigration) and Pierre Lellouche (State Secretary in charge of European Affairs) on the French side. During the meeting, a French representative asked for European unity in resolving this issue.
The Parliament will discuss the issue on 7 September. The Socialists and Democrats (S&D), the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), the Greens and the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) are expected to push for a formal condemnation of the French policy. On 6 September, an informal ministerial “workshop” will be organised by the French authorities. This meeting was supposed at first to hold debates on the issue of the Roma, but has been re-named lately “workshop on asylum and fight against illegal immigration”. Melchior Wathelet, Belgian State Secretary for Asylum and Immigration, Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, and representatives from the US, Canada, Germany, Spain, Greece, Italy and United Kingdom are expected to attend.
The controversy on the evictions of Roma takes place in a more and more xenophobic climate in Europe, on which High Commissioner for Refugees Guterres has repeatedly expressed deep concerns.