The French government is drawing up plans to ban any immigrant whose “personal behaviour” is deemed to pose a threat to “security or public order”. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has made it clear that he wants to keep certain ‘undesirables’, such as Roma gypsies and east European gangsters out of his country.
But critics point out that it would threaten the EU’s freedom of speech, which this weekend the outgoing President of the Commission, José-Manuel Barroso said was non-negotiable.
The vaguely worded proposed amendment to current legislation reads that “any national of an EU member-state or any member of the family of such an individual” who is likely to cause trouble should “be banned from entering French territory if their presence would constitute a real, current and sufficiently serious threat,” the Daily Mail has reported. The legislation aims at protecting the “fundamental interest of society, in terms of public order or security” against “personal behaviour” of the undesirable migrants.
Despite the right to freedom of movement between all member states being a fundamental condition of EU membership, Prime Minister Valls has indicated that he would like to see Roma communities expelled from France. Many of the Roma hail from Bulgaria and Romania, both of which joined the EU in 2007.
Earlier this year, Valls said that few of the Roma could ever integrate into French society, and blamed them for a range of criminal activities such as robbery and muggings, and aggressive begging. “The majority of Roma should be delivered back to the borders. We are not here to welcome these people…It’s not France’s job to deal with the misery of the whole world,” he said. A number of Roma campsites have been destroyed by the police and their inhabitants moved on.
However, his protectionist stance has drawn criticism from a range of human rights organisations. A spokesman for the Paris-based Immigrants’ Information and Support Group said: “We are particularly worried about the possible use of this measure against Roma from Romania and Bulgaria.” The vague definition of terms such as “security threat” and “personal behaviour” are also of concern, as the groups believe they could be used to refuse entry to anyone.
However, a spokesman for the interior ministry said that “by no means” was the measure aimed specifically at the Roma or any other group, stressing that each case would be judged “on its own merits.”
The EU institutions have yet to comment on France’s proposals, but over the weekend José-Manuel Barroso flattened suggestions by British Prime Minister David Cameron that a cap on EU migration could be negotiated with the other member states, saying “It is not up for negotiation.”