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Memo: Law & Governance: Is the expulsion of Roma legal?

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  • 1. Hertie  School  of  Governance                    Class   U5  Law  and  Governance   Convenor   Professor  Dr.  Nico  Krisch          Student   Steven  Lauwers                    Date   11.10.2010     DOES   THE   FRENCH   GOVERNMENT’S   DEPORTATION   OF   ROMA   VIOLATE   THE   LAW   OF   THE   EUROPEAN  UNION?     Introduction     As  a  member  state  of  the  European  Union  (‘EU’),  France  needs  to  comply  with  EU  law.  I  will  first   assess   if   the   Roma   do   indeed   have   the   right   to   reside   in   France   as   to   be   able   to   determine   possible  legal  grounds  for  expulsion.  I  will  then  go  on  to  look  at  relevant  EU  laws  that  France  may   have   broken   with   the   expulsion   of   Roma.   It   is   also   important   to   note   that   France   has   failed   to   transpose   the   procedural   and   substantive   guarantees   under   the   Directive   2004/38/EC   (‘Free   Movement  Directive’)  into  national  law,  which  each  Member  State  is  obliged  to  do.  This  does  not   mean  that  France  does  not  have  to  respect  the  Free  Movement  Directive,  but  that  France  can  be   sanctioned   for   not   transposing   the   Directive   into   national   law,   which   is   its   obligations   as   a   Member  State.     Residence  in  France     “The   right   of   every   EU   citizen   to   free   movement   within   the   Union   is   one   of   the   fundamental   principles  of  the  EU.  (…).”   1  According  to  the  Free  Movement  Directive  “Citizenship  of  the  Union   confers   on   every   citizen   of   the   Union   a   primary   and   individual   right   to   move   and   reside   freely   within  the  territory  of  the  Member  States,  subject  to  the  limitations  and  conditions  laid  down  in   the  Treaty  and  to  the  measures  adopted  to  give  it  effect.”  Article  17(1)  defines  EU  citizenship  as   “Every   person   holding   the   nationality   of   a   Member   State   shall   be   a   citizen   of   the   Union”.   As   Bulgaria   and   Romania,   the   country   of   residence   of   the   Roma   that   were   subject   of   France’s   expulsion,  joined  the  EU  in  2007,  they  are  EU  citizens  and  European  law  needs  to  be         The  right  of  residence  however  is  not  unconditional,  as  stated  in  Article  7  of  the  Free  Movement   Directive.   After   a   period   of   three   months,   the   resident   needs   to   prove   s/he   is   a   worker   or   self-­‐ employed  person  in  the  host  Member  State  or  should   be   able  to  support   him/herself  and  his/her   family  as  not  to  become  a  (financial)  burden  of  the  host  Member  State.  This  proves  the  Roma  had   the  right  to  freely  reside  in  France  for  3  months.  After  a  period  of  3  months,  France  has  a  legal   ground  to  ask  the  Roma  to  leave,  which  I  will  elaborate  below.     Grounds  for  expulsion     If  France  can  prove  certain  people  have  lived  in  France  for  more  than  three  months  and  do  not   meet  the  requirements  given  in  Article  7  of  the  Free  Movement  Directive,  this  constitutes  a  legal   ground   for   expulsion.   As   new   EU   members,   nationals   of   Bulgaria   and   Romania   face   temporary   restrictions   on   working   in   France   during   the   second   transitional   period   of   the   Treaty   of   Accession   that   ends   on   31   December   2011.   Until   then,   they   still   have   to   meet   the   work   permit   requirements   that   applied   before   they   joined   the   EU.   In   case   they   do   not   meet   these   after   3   months  of  residence  in  the  host  country,  the  host  country  has  the  right  to  ask  them  to  leave.       The  first  important  thing  to  determine  is  the  length  of  time  the  Roma  have  lived  in  France.  The   period  of  residence  on  the  expulsion  documents  handed  out  by  the  French  government  is  marked   as  unknown.  As  France  cannot  and  did  not  provide  evidence  as  proof  of  the  period  of  residence   for   each   individual   person,   the   main   reason   France   gave   for   the   expulsion   is   a   violation   of   Article   6  of  the  Free  Movement  Directive.       Article  27  of  the  Free  Movement  Directive  gives  Member  States  the  option  to  restrict  the  freedom   of  movement  of  EU  citizens  on  grounds  of  public  policy,  public  security  or  public  health.  France                                                                                                                   1  IP/10/1207:  EC  press  release.     1  
  • 2. claimed  –   and   still  does   –   that   the   expulsion   was   aimed   at   dismantling   the   illegal   camps   based   on   the  significant  rise  of  criminality  since  the  installation  of  these  camps.  This  still  has  to  be  proven   by  France  on  an  individual  basis,  which  France  has  failed  to  do  so  far.       It   is   also   clear   that   these   expulsions   were   based   on   ethnic   discrimination   and   not   on   public   security.  Discrimination  of  this  particular  group  has  been  ever-­‐present  in  French  policy.  This  was   shown  again  in  a  Circular  from  the  French  Interior  Ministry,  asking  for  eviction  of  “camps  illicites,   en  priorité  ceux  de  Roms”   2,  clearly  asking  to  give  priority  to  Roma  in  the  eviction  and  expulsion   operations.  By  singling  out  this  group,  the  French  government  is  targeting  an  ethnic  group,  which   is   discriminatory   and   violates   Article   21   of   the   European   Charter   of   Fundamental   Rights   (‘EU   Charter’).  Non-­‐discrimination  is  also  reflected  in  Directive  2004/38/EC.       Expulsion       Article  19  of  the  EU  Charter  and  Article  4  of  Protocol  4  of  the  European  Convention  on  Human   Rights  (‘ECHR’)  protect  EU  citizens  from  mass  expulsion.  Even  if  France  would  be  able  to  argue   the   expulsion   was   legally   justified,   the   way   the   expulsion  was   executed   cannot   be   justified.   In   the   case  of  Čonka  vs  Belgium,  the  European  Court  of  Human  Rights  judged  “the  expression  ‘collective   expulsion’  must  be  understood  as  meaning  any  collective  implementation  of  ‘expulsion  measures’  ”.   The  decisions  taken  by  the  court  in  Čonka  vs  Belgium  on  the  procedure  of  the  expulsion  can  be   used  as  a  precedent  to  find  violations  of  the  above-­‐mentioned  EU  laws  in  the  case  at  hand.       Conclusion     We   have   established   that   France   has   violated   several   EU   laws   by   undertaking   actions   targeted   at   a  minority  group,  the  Roma.  The  European  Commission  needs  to  uphold  the  EU  Charter  as  well   as   the   ECHR   and   provide   a   clear   reference   case   for   other,   ongoing   Roma   discriminations   in   Europe   by   acknowledging  and   sanctioning   the   violation   of   EU   laws   and   the   failure   of   France   to   transpose  the  Free  Movement  Directive  into  national  law.       Word  count:  939               Sources   Access  to  European  Law.  http://eur-­‐lex.europa.eu.   Circulaire  du  Ministre  de  l’Intérieur,  de  l’outre-­‐Mer  et  des  collectivités  territoriales.  05.08.2010   Subjet  :  Evacuation  des  campements  illicites.  09.10.2010   European  Commission.  29.09.2010  IP/10/1207:  European  Commission  assesses  recent   developments  in  France,  discusses  overall  situation  of  the  Roma  and  EU  law  on  free  movement  of   EU  citizens.  01.10.2010     European  Court  of  Human  Rights.  05.02.2002.  Case  of  Čonka  vs  Belgium.     European  Roma  Right  Centre.  28.09.2010.  Submission  of  legal  briefing  to  the  European   Commission.  http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=3715.  06.10.2010   Georgiev,  V.  Internet.  23.08.2010  EU  law  blog.  Expelling  the  Roma:  Is  it  legal?   http://eulaw.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/expelling-­‐the-­‐roma-­‐is-­‐it-­‐legal.  05.10.2010   Lichfield,  John.  Brussels  blinks  in  legal  row  with  Sarkozy  over  Roma  expulsion.  30.09.2010.  The   Independent.  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/brussels-­‐blinks-­‐in-­‐legal-­‐ row-­‐with-­‐sarkozy-­‐over-­‐roma-­‐expulsion-­‐2093503.html.  04.10.2010                                                                                                                         2  Circulaire  du  Ministre  de  l’Intérieur,  de  l’outre-­Mer  et  des  collectivités  territoriales.       2  

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