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NEWS: Kenney at odds with EU Parliament on immigration

France’s expulsion of Romas was debated yesterday by the European Parliament at its first plenary session after the summer recess.

The European Parliament voted 337 to 245 passing a resolution that states that the mass expulsions amounted to ‘discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity’. The full resolution can be read at http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P7-TA-2010-0312+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN.

The Romanian news agency novinite.com adds that, “Last week the European Commission criticized France over its expulsions of Roma and demanded more information about the crackdown. An interim report by the commission – the EU’s executive arm – said the French policy does not put enough emphasis on the individual circumstances of Roma facing expulsion. …The European Commission report came shortly after Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding voiced concern about the French expulsions.”

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney recently attended an ‘immigration’ summit in Paris hosted by the French government. France invited Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and surprisingly Canada to this summit. The German interior minister opted not to attend the summit and the British home secretary declined the invitation as well. But Kenney went. Postmedia News reported that, “France, according to (Liberal MP Ujjal) Dosanjh, is violating European Union law by deliberately targeting the Roma and should therefore be openly condemned by the Canadian government. …Kenney has replied, “I’m not going to follow the call of the Liberal Party of Canada and start boycotting liberal-democratic allies of the European Union because we may have questions about one particular policy.”

But neither did Mr. Kenney denounce the French policy. And it would now appear that it’s Mr. Kenney who is at odds with Europe. Senior German and British ministers opted not to attend the summit. The President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy was ‘disturbed’ by the meeting in Paris. The European Commission has expressed concern with France’s expulsions of the Roma (though it has been criticized for inaction). And now the European Parliament has condemned France’s actions by an unexpectedly large majority.

Kenney noted that at the summit discussed areas of future co-operation between Canada and Europe on immigration. Mr. Kenney’s aspirations now appear quite out of step with what Europe wants. It remains to be seen if his misstep will make Europeans further consider whether they want to pursue the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Related news articles can be read at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/09/french-anti-gypsy-european-parliament, http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=119872, and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11258439. A past campaign blog is at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=4506.