Motion for a resolution - B7-0500/2010Motion for a resolution
B7-0500/2010

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the situation of the Roma people in Europe

6.9.2010

to wind up the debate on statements by the Council and Commission
pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Cornelia Ernst, Marie-Christine Vergiat, Rui Tavares, Willy Meyer, Nikolaos Chountis, Patrick Le Hyaric, Miguel Portas, Jacky Hénin, Kyriacos Triantaphyllides on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0493/2010

Procedure : 2010/2842(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  
B7-0500/2010

B7‑0500

European Parliament resolution on the situation of the Roma people in Europe

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to international and European conventions protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) and the related case law of the European Court of Human Rights[1], and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–   having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights and namely its Articles 21 (non-discrimination) and 45 (Freedom of movement and of residence),

–   having regard to Articles 2, 6 and 7 of the Treaty on European Union and Articles 13 (measures against discrimination based on, inter alia, racial or ethnic origin), 12 (prohibition of discrimination on the basis of nationality) and 18 (freedom of movement),

–   having regard to Council Directive 2000/43/EC implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin[2] and notably to the definitions of direct and indirect discrimination and Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States[3],

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission on the social and economic integration of the Roma in Europe (COM/2010/0133) and the Reports of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on, inter alia, the Roma, racism and xenophobia, measures against discrimination, and freedom of movement, namely those of 31 January 2008 on a European Strategy on the Roma[4], of 10 July 2008 on the census of the Roma on the basis of ethnicity in Italy and of 25 March 2010 on the Second European Roma Summit,

–   having regard to its resolution of 14 January 2009 on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union 2004-2008,

–   having regard to the recommendations of the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in its 77th session (2-27 August 2010) regarding Denmark, Estonia, France, Romania and Slovenia,

–   having regard to the report from the Council of Europe, 4th ECRI report on France, published June 15, 2010,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the French government has decided in an emergency meeting on 28 July, convened to discuss ‘the problems posed by the behaviour of certain Travellers and Roma’ that around 300 irregular camps inhabited by Roma and Travellers would be closed within 3 months and that Roma would be expelled to their countries of origin, mainly Romania and Bulgaria,

B.  whereas the French authorities have claimed that a ‘voluntary’ and ‘humanitarian’ repatriation was being carried out in return for a compensation of €300 per adult and €100 per child, while press reported and the UN committee on racial discrimination has found that ‘not all individuals’ had given ‘their free and full consent’ or understood their rights, with some Roma declaring of having been threatened with arrest or with forced removal shall they refuse ‘voluntary’ repatriation, while the procedures enacted by the authorities, separating men from women and children, have also raised serious criticism; whereas in order to prevent Roma from coming back to France, the recipients of repatriation aid were requested to sign a form and their fingerprints were taken; whereas the payment of €300 would under no circumstances deprive the involved people of their rights under European law,

C. whereas France has been expelling and returning Roma for several years, including almost 10 000 in 2009 and more than 8 000 this year, whereas the French Government applies to Roma, and only them, a specific legislation (‘circular NOR/INT/D/06/00115/C of 22 December 2006 concerning the arrangements for admission, residence and removal of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals, which entered into force on 1 January 2007’) being the only text of such nature applicable in France to EU citizens; whereas Roma are the only EU citizens being put by French authorities in migrants’ holding centres,

D. whereas evictions of Roma are included in figures on expulsions as a quantitative measure of the effectiveness of the policy implemented by the French government to expel foreign nationals living irregularly in France and that in this context Roma are treated as non-EU foreigners; whereas Roma expelled in this manner represented in 2009 one third of expulsions published by the French government in this framework and represented one third of all Romanians and Bulgarians living in France,

E.  whereas 86 Roma were returned to Romania and Bulgaria on 19 August, around 130 on 20 August, around 300 on 26 August and that the government has announced that around 800 Roma would be returned by the end of August,

F.  whereas according to NGOs working with the Roma people in France, expulsions are carried out on the basis of an ‘obligation to leave the territory’ (OQTF) worded in exactly the same terms and within such a short deadline that it is impossible to carry out ‘a case‑by‑case’ examination of the situation of the Roma person in question; whereas these expulsions are almost always carried out when the place where Roma live is being dismantled and that this dismantling is often accompanied by police violence,

G. whereas the French government also stated that failure to integrate the Roma minority should stop Romania and Bulgaria from joining Schengen in March if they do not ‘take up their responsibility’ towards Roma, in contradiction to the technical assessment of Romania and Bulgaria’s compliance that was positively endorsed by all Member States in the Schengen working group; whereas the Commission has also rejected such proposal by the French government,

H. whereas notwithstanding the fact that the measures taken by the French government have raised widespread criticism at national, European and international level, from NGOs, governments, institutions and religious leaders and organisations, notably the UN, the Council of Europe and EU bodies, the French government has continued with the expulsions, receiving only the support of the Italian Interior Minister that had proposed and implemented similar measures in the past,

I.   whereas deep and serious concern has been expressed by the Council of Europe Commission against Racism and Intolerance, by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, by the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner and by the President of the Parliamentary Assembly,

J.   whereas Italy had already been hardly criticised in 2008 for discriminating policies on Roma people; whereas the Italian Minister of Interiors has asked the European Commission to ‘foresee sanctions and expulsion or return measures also for EU citizens not respecting EU directive 2004/38’,

K. whereas the spirit of the Treaties and of the EU itself is towards full freedom of movement and the law regulating it shall be understood as a minimum framework and must not be used against this main objective of the Union,

L.  whereas the French authorities have invited Interior Ministers from Italy, Germany, the UK, Spain, Greece and later on Belgium and the European Commission, together with Canada and the US, for a meeting to discuss ‘immigration’ and free movement issues falling under the EU competence to Paris on September, to which other Member States where not invited, and whereas the Interior Minister of Italy announced his intention to push for stricter EU rules on immigration and on free movement, notably for Roma,

M. whereas the right to free movement is a fundamental right enshrined in the EU Treaties and disciplined by Directive 2004/38/EC, which has been the object of a report by the Commission and of guidelines for the Member States on the correct application of the directive,

N. whereas the EU trio in their joint declaration on the 2nd Roma summit held in Cordoba on 8‑9 April 2010 committed themselves to:

    –    advance the mainstreaming of Roma issues in European and national policies on fundamental rights, and protection against racism, poverty and social exclusion,

    –    improve the design of the roadmap of the Integrated Platform on Roma Inclusion and prioritising key objectives and results,

    –    ensure that existing financial instruments of the European Union, in particular the Structural Funds, are made available to the Roma,

O. whereas expulsions of Roma as such amounts to a serious breach of the European values regarding human rights and fundamental freedoms and violates EU MS commitments to strengthen Roma integration as adopted on the 2nd Roma summit,

P.  whereas the Commission has the duty to ensure that EU Treaties and law, as well as human rights and fundamental freedoms, are respected, protected and promoted in the EU and shall react promptly and strongly against clear violations of these, as soon as these happen,

Q. whereas such expulsions take place in a context of statements by French government leaders suggesting links between Roma, immigrants and criminality and where proposals have also been made on the stripping of French nationality from anyone of foreign origin who threatened the life of a police officer,

R.  whereas Germany is preparing to return around 10 000 Roma to Kosovo, half of which are children, including German-born children, notwithstanding the call to western European states by UNICEF and the Council of Europe Commissioner for human to stop forcibly returning Roma to Kosovo; whereas Sweden has expelled some 50 Roma for ‘begging,’ even though begging is not a crime in Sweden; whereas other States apply similar policies; whereas Denmark has summarily expelled Roma in July,

S.  whereas the inability to find work in the formal labour market (it is often more difficult for a Roma to access the labour market than for a non-EU citizen), coupled with a lack of sufficient resources often prevents from registering their residence,

1.  Deeply condemns the measures taken by the French authorities as well as by other Member States’ authorities targeting Roma and Travellers and providing for their return to their countries of origin and urges the them to immediately suspend all expulsions of Roma; calls the Commission and the Council, as well as Member States, to intervene with the same request; recalls that collective expulsions are in violation of fundamental rights and can be under no circumstances accepted;

2.  Underlines that these measures are in violation of EU Treaties and law, of Directive 2000/43 since they amount to a discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity and of Directive 2004/38/EC on the free movement of citizens and of their families in the EU, while collective expulsions are prohibited by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;

3.  Recalls that Directive 2004/38 circumscribes the possibility of expelling a Union citizen within very clearly defined limits and that, specifically, expulsions decisions have to be assessed and decided individually, taking into consideration the personal circumstances (Article 28), procedural safeguards have to be applied (Article 30), access to judicial and administrative suspension and redress procedures shall be guaranteed (Article 31), expulsions of citizens on grounds of representing an unreasonable burden on the host Member State’s social assistance system is not sufficient in itself to justify automatic expulsion (recital 16 and Article 14), any restriction of freedom of movement and residence based on grounds of public policy, public security or public health cannot be invoked to serve economic ends, shall be proportional and be based solely on the personal conduct of the individual concerned and on no account on considerations of general prevention (Article 27), sanctions laid down by Member States must be effective and proportionate (Article 36);

4.  Notes that such the expulsions have targeted Roma specifically as a community as a threat to public order and safety and as a burden on the social assistance, and carried out in an extremely short lapse of time under modalities that included public stigmatisation and the use of force and intimidation; since no precise individual and case-by-case evaluation can reasonably and properly be done in such conditions, procedural safeguards have not been applied and guaranteed; the condition of proportionality has been violated and the measures could have been taken for economic ends or for general prevention; the directive does not foresee or allow any procedure allowing for the facilitated or voluntary return for EU citizens to the Member State of origin on the basis of an economic ‘compensation’, which would also be contrary to the spirit and letter of the Treaties, since freedom of movement is a fundamental right that cannot be alienated, bought or sold, and would create a discrimination between EU citizens ; furthermore, according to Romanian authorities, none of those returned have ever committed a crime in France or in Romania;

5.  Urges the Member States to strictly comply with their obligations and to remove inconsistency in the application of the Free Movement Directive requirements;

6.  Underlines furthermore that the collection of fingerprints of the Roma expelled is illegal and contrary to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (articles 21.1 and 2), The Treaties and EU law, notably of Directives 38/2004 and 43/2000 and amounts to a discrimination based on ethnic or national origin;

7.  Takes note of the late and weak reaction of the European Commission through the statement issued by the Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship on 25 August, where ‘concern’ is expressed on the expulsion of Roma from France and stating that ‘nobody should face expulsion just for being Roma’, while calling ‘all Member States respect the commonly agreed EU rules on free movement, non-discrimination and the common values of the European Union, which is a ‘community of values and fundamental rights’, and notably the respect for fundamental rights, including the rights of people belonging to minorities’; calls the Commission to act without delay to ensure that EU Treaties and law are respected, notably by immediately requesting Member States to stop Roma expulsions since the evaluation of the EU legality is not completed by the Commission;

8.  Rejects inflammatory statements linking minorities and immigrants to criminality, as they perpetuate negative stereotypes which contribute to the stigmatisation of and discrimination against Roma;

9.  Welcomes and asks to be involved in the ‘full analysis’ announced by the Commissioner of the situation in France and the verification of the conformity of the measures taken with EU law, as well as the exchange of information between the Commission and the French authorities and in the workshop proposed by the President of the Commission and the French authorities; calls for such monitoring to cover all Member States involved; insists on the Commission not to base its analysis only on its exchanges with the public authorities concerned but also on in depth consultation with NGOs working with the Roma community on regular bases and Roma representatives;

10. Calls for a European Roma Strategy containing ‘concrete and forward-looking measures to improve the social integration of Roma’ and ‘measures involving housing, access to the labour market, education and health’ to contribute ‘to improving the situation of the Roma’; calls on the Commission, the Council, Member States and regional and local authorities to take on their joint responsibility for the Roma and contribute in this strategy at their respective level of responsibility, notably Member States of origin and destination;

11. Recalls that free movement of EU citizens is a EU matter and that consequently, on the basis of the principle of loyal cooperation, such issues shall be discussed in EU institutions and not in restricted meetings to which only some Member States governments are invited;

12. Calls on the Member States and namely France to close the gap in minorities’ protection on its territory by signing and ratifying the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities of the Council of Europe;

13. Urges the Denmark, Estonia, France, Romania and Slovenia governments to strictly comply with their obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by immediately endorsing the recommendations of the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in its 77th session; especially for France, namely to avoid collective expulsions, to take all necessary measures to ensure equal opportunities in access to quality education at all levels, health, housing and other public facilities, to take all necessary measures to ensure right to vote, to provide shelters as planned by the law of 5 July 2000 ‘concerning the reception and habitat of travellers (Besson law)’ and to guarantee an equal treatment between all the citizens by abolishing the titles of circulation for ‘travellers’;

14. Reminds Member States of their obligations under international human rights law to guarantee the rights of all persons, including Roma and Travellers, inter alia, to adequate housing and underlines that adequate alternative accommodation must be provided;

15. Reiterates its previous calls on the Member States to review and repeal laws and policies that discriminate against the Roma on the basis of race and ethnicity, directly or indirectly, and on the Council and the Commission to monitor the application by the Member States of the Treaties and of the directives on measures against discrimination and on freedom of movement, notably in relation to Roma, and to take the necessary measures if that is not the case;

16. Requests the Commission to kindly provide a detailed assessment of the use of funds allocated to the fight against discrimination against Roma in each EU Member State;

17. Requests upon the Fundamental Rights Agency to draft an opinion on the conformity of such policies with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU;

18. Charges its responsible committee to, upon consultation with the FRA and NGOs and bodies dealing with human rights and Roma issues and bodies representing Roma people, follow up the issue and to draft a report on the situation of Roma in Europe as already decided at the beginning of the mandate, on the basis of the resolutions and requests made by Parliament in its previous reports and resolutions;

19. Urges the Member States to recognise and respect the right to social and housing assistance so as to ensure a decent existence for all those who lack sufficient resources and to ensure that Roma and other people exercising their right to freedom of movement are informed about the requirements which have to be fulfilled;

20. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, to the governments and parliaments of the Member States, to the Council of Europe and to the UN.