As it appears that France will miss the 15 October deadline given by the European Commission to prove the legality of its Roma expulsions policy, the EU executive will make its case "stronger" against Paris, EU officials told EurActiv.
Two days ahead of the deadline set by the Commission, Paris had reportedly "not done much" to abide by the requests. "It's unrealistic that relevant measures will be notified by the deadline," said a Commission source.
France was asked to provide by 15 October the text of a draft law aimed at transposing into national law those elements of a directive on the free movement of EU citizens that are not currently part of French legislation, as exposed by the Roma row between Brussels and Paris (see 'Background').
In a letter seen by EurActiv which EU Justice and Fundamental Rights Commissioner Viviane Reding sent to the French government at the end of September, she clearly requests the transposition of Articles 27 and 28 of the directive.
These articles regulate expulsions of EU citizens from a member state different from the one of origin, and set out citizens' rights to protect them from expulsions. Article 27 clearly states that expulsions "shall comply with the principle of proportionality and shall be based exclusively on the personal conduct of the individual concerned".
The Commission also laments France's failure to transpose into national law the "procedural and material safeguards" contained in the directive, which sets out a number of stages in the process of expelling an EU citizen.
Since the French Interior Ministry circulated a letter giving the order to dismantle the Roma camps, in which the government clearly targeted the whole ethnic minority, Paris has stood accused of having carried out mass deportations aimed at Roma people.
In a subsequent document, drafted to quieten critics, Paris clearly avoided targeting Roma. But Commissioner Reding in her letter to Paris wondered whether the new document was enough "to put an end to possible practices which are not in conformity with EU rules".
In its battle with Paris, the Commission dropped a previous threat to open proceedings against France for discrimination against Roma people, which would have had much graver political consequences.
New scandal in progress
In the meantime, another scandal erupted following the disclosure by French daily Le Monde of a gendarmerie database called MENS, which stands for "non-sedentary ethnic minorities".
Jacques Mignaud, director of the national gendarmerie, will be quizzed this morning by the French parliament (National Assembly) from 9:30. The meeting will be broadcast online.
It thus appears that it will be difficult to avoid launching an infringement procedure. Brussels is planning to issue its monthly set of infringements on 28 October and France is likely to be included in this round.
Stronger case against Paris
To strengthen its case against Paris, the Commission is planning to single out France on this issue. "No other EU country will be put under the infringement procedure" regarding the free circulation of EU citizens, explained a Commission source.
The Commission seems to have dropped the idea of attacking other countries on the same issue, despite the fact that many other member states present shortcomings in transposing the directive.
- 15 Oct. 2010: Deadline for France to present relevant documents to Brussels to avoid launch of infringement procedure.
- 28 Oct. 2010: Monthly round of infringement procedures scheduled by Commission.