The French government today (15 October) told the European Commission that it would fully implement EU law on free movement of citizens to ease concerns that it violated EU rules by expelling thousands of Roma during the summer.
France’s foreign ministry said that it would meet a deadline of today set by the Commission to present details on how it plans to improve the rights of EU citizens to free movement on its territory.
“French authorities are willing to insert certain provisions of the (2004) directive into national law texts,” said a statement issued by the ministry. It added that the French government had sent the “necessary information” to the Commission to show that it would “fully comply with European law”.
The Commission had given France until today to present its plans or face legal action at the European Court of Justice. It decided on 29 September to threaten taking legal action after an investigation into the expulsion of thousands of Roma to Bulgaria and Romania found that France had not properly implemented EU rules.
Viviane Reding, the European commissioner for justice, had called the expulsions “a disgrace”, warning they had probably violated EU free movement and discrimination rules. A second investigation, into whether France violated European discrimination rules, is still ongoing.
The Commission said that rights and safeguards offered by the EU free movement legislation were not “fully effective and transparent” in French national law. At issue were guarantees in the law that are supposed to give citizens a right to appeal against expulsions in national courts.
Eric Besson, France’s immigration minister, said on Wednesday (13 October) that France would ensure it complied with EU law by amending its national immigration legislation. He said the government would aim to have the changes debated by the parliament by the end of this year.
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A Commission spokesman welcomed Besson’s comments, but said “what matters is not words but facts”.
Once the Commission has received the French plans, it will decide whether they go far enough. A spokesman refused to set a date by which a final decision would be made.