France: Roma expulsions

The European commission ordered France to comply with an EU directive on the free movement of EU citizens or face legal action over its expulsion of thousands of Roma.
The European commission ordered France to comply with an EU directive on the free movement of EU citizens or face legal action over its expulsion of thousands of Roma.

An estimated 11 million Roma live in Europe. They face widespread discrimination in housing, jobs and education across the continent. As EU citizens, they have a right to travel to France, but must get papers to work or live there in the long term.

The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has defended the expulsions, saying they are part of an overall crackdown on illegal immigrants and crime. The government also says most of the Roma are leaving voluntarily, with a small stipend from France. Most are being sent to Romania. The commission letter is the first steps to legal action against France.

At the same time, a French mayor is refusing to allow the children of asylum seekers to attend nursery school and has told their older siblings they cannot eat in the canteen or enjoy after-class activities. Jacqueline Eustache-Brinio said, she cannot see why local residents should "pay for these children" to attend local schools.

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