EU to drop legal threat against France over Roma expulsions
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EU justice chief Viviane Reding will recommend that the European Commission drop a threat of legal action against France over its Roma crackdown after the French government vowed to change national legislation, an EU official has said.
AFP - European Union justice chief Viviane Reding will withdraw Tuesday a legal threat against France over its expulsions of Roma migrants but her probe into discrimination remains open, an EU official said.
Reding found that France had given "sufficient" assurances that it would modify its national legislation in order to better apply EU law on the free movement of EU citizens, the official said on condition of anonymity.
"The examination of the French response is over and Mrs. Reding has reached the conclusion that it met the demands of the European Commission," the official told AFP.
Reding will recommend that the commission, the guardian of EU treaties, drop the legal threat when the EU's 27 commissioners meet later Tuesday, the source said.
France met a deadline last Friday set by the European Commission to give assurances that it would fall in line with EU laws on freedom of movement or face legal action.
Reding, however, will continue her investigation into whether France violated anti-discrimination laws during controversial summer deportations of Roma migrants from France to Romania and Bulgaria, the EU source said.
The commission has not brandished the threat of legal action for discriminatory practices.
Reding was a vocal critic of the French government over the Roma issue, going as far as drawing a parallel with World War II deportations, a comparison that caused tensions between Paris and Brussels.
The controversy boiled over on September 16 when Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso verbally clashed at a summit of EU leaders, but the two sides have since sought to cool things down.
Paris insists there was nothing racist in the moves against the Roma, saying they were rounded up simply because they had overstayed the period they were allowed to stay in France without any visible means of financial support.
At the centre of the row between Reding and Paris was a controversial French government memo dated August 5 ordering police chiefs to clear 300 camps or illegal settlements within three months, saying "Roma camps are a priority."
France has since amended the document and Reding has expressed regret for the wartime comparison.
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