Despite the ultimatum delivered in October 2010 to the French government by Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, to adapt its national immigration law ‘to the letter’ of the Citizens Directive 2004/38, the country has continued to evict and expel Romanian and Bulgarian nationals of Roma origin. This paper examines the state of affairs with respect to France’s policy on eviction and expulsion of Roma and assesses the way in which the controversy has developed and can be understood from the perspective of citizenship of the EU. On the basis of an examination of the subsequent responses by the European Commission and the EU member states involved, as well as of a recent bilateral agreement concluded between France and Romania on the reintegration of families of Romanian citizens belonging to the Roma minority who have exercised their freedom to move, the paper suggests that there has been a paradigm shift in the priorities driving EU policy responses and politics. This shift has led to an ethnicisation of citizenship of the Union, where ethnicity increasingly plays a decisive role in the allocation and attribution of responsibility to secure and safeguard the union freedoms.
Sergio Carrera is Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Justice and Home Affairs unit at CEPS.