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EU Parliament Criticizes Roma Expulsion by France

The European Parliament has criticized the move by the French government to expel its Roma migrants.

Since August, France has deported about 1,000 ethnic Roma to Romania and Bulgaria. In a resolution passed Thursday, the European Union called for France to bring it to a stop.

European Parliament member for London Jean Lambert says France's Roma policy is discriminatory.

"It is not saying you have committed a crime and therefore you as an individual should be expelled from this country," Lampert. "It really is sort of state discrimination of a group, which is already one of the most disadvantaged in the European Union."

The resolution was passed with 337 votes; 245 voted against.

Lampert says it is unusual for the European Parliament to make such an open criticism of a member state, but she says the current situation demanded it.

"Today a majority of the members of the European Union took the position that this was so bad that, yes, they were going to name member states responsible," said Lampert.

The resolution was also critical of the European Commission. It said the Commission, as guardian of the EU treaty, should have made a strong, quick response when the expulsions first started.

Discrimination against national or ethnic groups is forbidden under EU law. The French government says it is not stigmatizing Roma or breaking EU law. It says the deportation is a question of public safety. Roma were recently involved in a few public order incidents, including a riot in southeastern France.

Christian Schweiger from Britain's Durham University says discrimination is an ongoing problem in Europe.

"This has been an ongoing issue," said Schweiger. "Racial division, religious division has been an issue and countries very often do not abide by these rules."

The resolution passed by the European Parliament also criticized the treatment of Roma by other member states. This week, Italian authorities dismantled illegal Roma camps around Milan and Rome.