Friday, September 17, 2010

France vs the Roma and vs. the EU

France has responded to an influx of Roma from Eastern Europe by expelling them, and then French leaders get upset when parallels are drawn to Nazi Germany.  The EU Commission has ruled against France, but it remains to be seen what the EU can do.  Its toothlessness is underscored by the fact that the Roma are on the move in part because Romania (and probably Bulgaria) did not meet the promises it made when it applied for membership.

Pie crust promises (a band?), indeed.  Bill Ayres and I argued that the EU's membership process was not nearly as influential as folks argued for many reasons including two that matter here: that applicants would not implement their promises (Romania not funding Roma assistance programs) and that the standards did not seem to apply to members.  While lots of the stuff on treatment of minorities only applied to applicants, France is tripping over something that did apply to all members--free movement of the folks within the EU.  This is one of the essential pieces of the European Union (not so much the EEC).  But it is damned inconvenient when some people are willing to embrace their European identity and mosey to better situations.

The question now is whether the EU will punish France or not in a meaningful way.  I doubt it will go much beyond rhetoric as France has heaps of votes in the organization and has been one of its main enthusiasts.

The timing could not have been better for either of my classes.  Intro to IR: what is a great power?  How does the EU fit into the scheme of things--as a larger state, as a new entity, or as an international organization limited by the sovereignty of its members?  For my IR of Ethnic Conflict class: multiple identities in play: are the French French or are they Europeans?

Is the future of Europe its past after all?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Free movement of people will apply to Eastern Europe in France only after 2014.