Nicolas Sarkozy of the state of France demanded that the Romanian state government do more to aid the Roma at home. He vowed to keep dismantling immigrant camps and angrily rejected complaints from E.U. Commission officials that the French authorities were illegally singling out Roma for deportation.
The Roma in the state of France Nikolay Doychinov, NYT
Sarkozy, being oriented to state politics, tried to revive his support on the political right by deporting thousands of them, offering 300 euros, about $392, to those who go home voluntarily, and bulldozing their encampments. The European Commission threatened legal action against the state of France over the deportation, calling it disgraceful and illegal. Perhaps it could also be called racist. If so, might Sarkozy’s action be comparable to a Southern state in the U.S. trying to kick black people out. That is, might Sarkozy’s action evince state rights perpetrating racism? Arizona’s immigration law requiring people being investigated by the police to show I.D. pales in comparison. Might the association of state rights and racism have shifted from the U.S. to the E.U.? If so, it is doubtful that state rights would be marginalized in the E.U. as it has been in the U.S. on account of the association; the state governments in the E.U. enjoy more than enough loyalty by their citizens to defeat it.
More generally, this case illustrates the problems that the E.U. has had in enforcing compliance of the terms of the accession talks of new states. Prime facie, the case showcases the difficulty involved in integrating Europe, particularly as states such as Italy, Spain, France and Denmark strive to keep out immigrants from Africa. The case of the Roma could be just the tip of the iceberg in how state rights may be fueled by racism to keep certain groups out. In other words, there could be a rather troubling pattern here, and Europeans may be torn—looking to the E.U. to thwart the racism while supporting their state governments in keeping out “troubling” groups. It is part and parcel of the checks and balances in modern federalism that member governments can be called on their sordid policies even when they are popular within the particular states.
Click to add a question or comment on the Roma in the E.U.
Suzanne Daley, “Roma, on Move, Test Europe’s ‘Open Borders’,” The New York Times, September 16, 2010.