Press Release
30 September 2010

SOCIALISTS AND DEMOCRATS VICE-PRESIDENT WELCOMES COMMISSION INFRINGEMENT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST FRANCE ON THE ROMA

Stephen Hughes Labour MEP for the North East,  welcomed today's decision that the European Commission will institute infringement proceedings against France for their action on expelling Roma EU citizens.

Stephen Hughes, Vice-President of the Socialist and Democrats Group in the European Parliament said,
"We asked the Commission to take infringement proceedings against France for breaking EU law by expelling EU citizens based on their ethnicity without any procedural guarantees. We wanted a warning shot to be fired across countries like Sweden, Denmark and Italy who are in the process of taking similar action against the Roma."
"The European Commission today has taken the first step in a long battle. They have addressed the French Government's failure to transpose EU free movement law, which enabled France in turn to make expulsions which would be illegal if the law had been transposed."
Stephen Hughes MEP said:
"While it is welcome that the Commission has made this first step, we must not let France off the hook. What they did was to discriminate profoundly on an ethnic basis, with all the historic resonance that expelling the Roma has brought about."
"My Political Group will ensure that the pressure remains on the Commission to stay the course, to see infringement proceedings through to their conclusion, and to make a clear statement that there is strong and compelling evidence that an original Member State of the EU forcibly expelled EU citizens based on their ethnic group."
"This marks an important precedent as it is the first time the Commission has exercised its power as guardian of EU law in an issue not related to the internal market, but to a founding principle, in this case, that of EU citizenship. That must be welcomed."
ENDS
For further information please call Stephen Hughes on 07770914526 or Press Officer Cyndi Beaver on 07764198400.