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New Deal between France and Romania on Roma Returns Must Not Breach Rights to Free Movement

14 September 2012

Budapest, Bucharest, Paris 14 September 2012: A new pilot project to send Roma migrants back to Romania from France should not breach freedom of movement rights for EU citizens, and should not encourage the French government to continue with its current policies on Roma.

The French and Romanian governments signed a new deal relating to the deportation of Roma on 12 September. Media sources report that this is a two-year pilot scheme that will begin with the repatriation of around 80 Romani families currently living in France. An official French government statement mentions the “implementation and follow-up of 80 concrete projects aimed at the reintegration of returnees from France”, to be achieved through close collaboration between national and local French and Romanian authorities. Full details of the agreement have yet to be released.

The ERRC supports any genuine and effective efforts to integrate Roma. However it would expect that such efforts be carefully designed, transparent and effectively monitored. The ERRC is also concerned that any such measures are undertaken in the context of ongoing evictions and explusions from France.

France currently sends Romanian citizens back under a so-called voluntary scheme of Humanitarian Aid Returns (aides au retour humanitaire, ARH). The returns cannot be considered voluntary and therefore breach rights to free movement. This was made clear by a 2011 decision of the European Committee of Social Rights in a collective complaint against France, regarding the expulsions of Roma in 2010. It noted that so-called voluntary returns were actually disguised forms of forced collective expulsions, as the returns were typically accepted following forced eviction and under the threat of expulsion from France. The willingness to accept financial assistance of € 300 per adult and € 100 per child reveals a “situation of destitution or extreme uncertainty”, and the absence of economic freedom “poses a threat to the effective enjoyment of their political freedom to come and go as they choose”.

In addition to concerns around expulsions, France continues its relentless policy of evictions of Romani communities. Since June this year the ERRC has recorded more than 30 forced evictions throughout France affecting more than 4,000 Roma. Over the last two days alone more than 800 Roma have left the settlement of Sucy en Brie, in the suburbs of Paris.

For more information, contact

Sinan Gökçen,
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre

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