Keith's press release:
EU HAS DUTY TO UPHOLD RIGHTS OF ROMA PEOPLE, SAYS GREEN EURO-MP - Comments follow President Sarkozy’s widely criticized deportations of Roma from France to Romania MEPs will congregate on Tuesday (7 September, 3pm) to debate a proposed resolution on the European Parliament’s formal response to the expulsions of Roma people in France. The plight of the Roma people is back on the political agenda in Parliament following controversial moves by the French government to deport planeloads of Roma to Romania as part of a general crackdown by President Nicolas Sarkozy. MEPs and the Council have repeatedly asked the European Commission to draw up a cohesive strategy and programme for the EU wide integration of the Roma – but so far it has failed to do so. As a member of the Greens/EFA group, one of four EP political groups which condemn Sarkozy's government for the expulsions, the Green MEP for the South East said he was horrified by the mass deportations – and urged the EU to uphold the principles of its own laws by taking a hard line on France’s draconian policy. Keith Taylor, the Green Party’s MEP for South East England, said: “Roma people are European citizens, yet some of their most fundamental rights – including freedom of movement within the EU – have been abused. It seems clear that the actions of the French government are driven by xenophobia, and represent a blatant flouting of France’s obligations under international law. “In case there was any doubt, the Romanian Interior Minister Vasile Blaga scotched the French justification for the deportations – that the individuals were criminals – when he revealed that not a single Romanian deported from France last week appeared on any French or Romanian police databases. “The Parliament and Commission must not ignore this injustice. It must act swiftly to draw up a common European strategy for the Roma people which addresses the many challenges they face in a fair and humane way. The Greens believe that the EP resolution should go further and will therefore seek to amend it in Strasbourg on Tuesday. We are also calling for a legal challenge against this strategy of persecution.” There are an estimated 10-12 million Roma people in the EU, representing the largest ethnic minority. Other member states, such as Italy, have also been criticized for their historically poor treatment of the ethnic community. Romania is calling for recognition of Roma human rights and a wider policy of integration. While Greens have made clear their plans to speak out against the expulsion of Roma, the conservative EPP group has said it will attempt to block criticism of Sarkozy’s actions.