“Empty Human Rights Lip Service”: France’s Roma Expulsions and the Failure of the European Union to Exercise Its Racial Equality Directive
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This article argues that the arrests and expulsion of large numbers of Roma carried out by the French government in 2010 violated the European Union’s human rights principles because non-French Roma were targeted collectively for removal. In response to the expulsions, the European Commission initiated infringement proceedings against France for procedural violations of European Union Directive 2004/38 (the Free Movement Directive). However such racially discriminatory state action should be challenged more properly as a substantive violation of Directive 2000/43 (the Racial Equality Directive). Because the European Union does not have its own separate body of human rights law that is binding within Member States, using the Racial Equality Directive to offer protection to vulnerable minorities by challenging discriminatory state practices may be an alternative method of achieving human rights objectives within Member States. Moreover, since the Racial Equality Directive lacks interpretation, a situation of race-based expulsion of EU migrants would be an opportunity to clarify and develop the scope and meaning of the Directive.
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