(Trad. Dawn East

The EU Community Executive meeting held in Brussels on Wednesday was of vital importance for the Roma community in Europe.  It was there that the results of the legal and political analysis undertaken byViviane Reding (Justice), Cecilia Malmström (Home Affairs) and László Andor (Social Affairs), were presented and debated.  The resulting decision was to start proceedings against France, which may have them brought before the European Court in Luxembourg.

France was not in fact sanctioned directly, as they tried to save the day by offering “top level guarantees”, promising to resolve deficiencies in French legislation regarding the 2004 European Directive on free movement. This was a strategic move which will give France until mid-October before proceedings start against them.     

The European Commission however, wants to go one step further to stop the movement started by France, and will be studying similar processes which fifteen other member countries have also followed.  This could be considered a real ‘slap on the wrist’ and an obstacle to the growing number of expulsions which have recently taken place.    

It was necessary to take these kind of measures to preserve the route drawn up by the European Union with reference to the Roma community inclusion, which began this year with the Córdoba Summit.

We do not understand why there are so many "defeatist" headlines in the press about what happened in Brussels on Wednesday, since Brussels is not going to let France get off without being sanctioned, nor have their explanations been accepted.  The only thing that France has achieved is a time extension of two weeks before they are brought before the Luxembourg Court. The European Commission’s decision to study the fifteen other countries for breaching legislation does nothing to aid Sarkozy's argument, as all fifteen cases are related to the same problem.

One could speak of failure and “surrender”, when indeed this is the case, however, it would not be fair to do this now, as one sector of the press has been doing.  Despite the French Immigration Minister, Éric Besson statement that " France has come out with its head held high”, the truth is that if they have been "stopped in their tracks" it is because they have no choice but to strictly ensure they meet the requirement imposed by the European Commission.

After heated debates between Sarkozy, Barroso and Reding, there were hopes of finding a balanced outcome, particularly so that nobody on this occasion would feel humiliated.  This has enabled France to "sell" an image that suits them, which is commonplace after elections where every political leader offers their electorate giving favourable data. This gives a different, more positive impression of reality in the case of resulting defeat.

Therefore, what happened in Brussels is not darkness and despair at all, rather an open door to hope. This hope is firmly supported by the unwavering commitment to the Roma community, both by Commissioner Viviane Reding, along with Commissioner László Andor, and on this occasion, the Commissioner of Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström.

Mundo Gitano – Gypsy World