Who: High-ranking E.U. official
What: European Union Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding in her statement compared France’s actions to the persecution of Jews and Gypsies in Nazi-occupied France. In a statement to the media, she said: “This is a situation I had thought Europe would not have to witness again after the Second World War.” She demanded the European Commission to take legal action against France over the deportations. Hours later, the E.U. official regretted her comments but refused to apologise.
Where: Ms. Reding gave the statement in Brussels, the capital of Belgium and headquarters of the European Commission.
When: The controversial statement came hours before the E.U. summit began on Thursday, 16 September.
Why: The European Commissioner from Luxembourg is unhappy the way French President Nicolas Sarkozy is handling the Roma gypsies and expelling them from France. Paris says it wants an end to illegal Roma settlements in France and deport all Gypsies living without permits. The E.U. has expressed displeasure over the issue and has threatened legal action.
How: Roughly 10,000 Roma currently live in France of which 1,000 have already been expelled to Romania and Bulgaria. Many of the deported Roma Gypsies received €330 (around $425) and a one-way plane ticket for leaving the country. The French president accused the Roma of crimes and ordered a closure of their 300 camps insisting all deportations are voluntary and the government is handling the matter on case by case basis.