16.11.2007 - 10:44 CET
EUOBSERVER / STRASBOURG - The European Parliament has criticised EU commissioner Franco Frattini for comments on Italy's crackdown on crime by Romanian Roma migrants, while urging the bloc's member states to avoid collective punishments on migrant groups such as Roma.
In a resolution passed by MEPs on Thursday (15 November), the EU assembly reacted to the mounting debate on restrictions of Europe's freedom of movement principle for public security reasons.
The freedom of movement principle came under the spotlight following recent events in Italy, where the government adopted measures allowing the local authorities to expel migrants from other EU member states considered as being involved in criminal activities.
In the Italian case, the recent murder of a woman allegedly by a Romanian of Roma origin, resulted in the direct expulsions of Roma people. Around 1,000 individuals have arrived in Italy every month since Romania joined the EU last January.
Despite resistance from the biggest centre-right parliamentary group in the parliament, MEPs noted in their resolution that "the recent statements to the Italian press by Mr Franco Frattini, a Commission Vice-President, in connection with the serious incidents in Rome were contrary to the spirit and the letter" of EU free movement rules.
"He is called upon to comply in full" with these rules, MEPs added.
Mr Frattini had advised the Italian government to pull down the Roma camps to prevent them from returning.
"What has to be done is simple. Go into a nomad camp in Rome for example, and ask them: 'Can you tell me where you live?' If they say they do not know, take them and send them home to Romania. That is how the European directive works," Mr Frattini had said in one interview earlier this month.
The chairman of the centre-right EPP-ED Group, French MEP Joseph Daul "firmly condemned the personal attack against the Vice-President of the Commission, Franco Frattini" in the Resolution.
"I wish to denounce a political manoeuvre unworthy of Italian Socialists, relayed by
some colleagues, which is not central to the political issue", he added.
Mr Frattini himself reacted to MEPs by stressing he himself was "not prepared to tolerate any form of discrimination" while equally supporting member states who lawfully protect citizens.
"After all, freedom, justice and security all go hand in hand," he pointed out in a statement following the parliamentary resolution.
In Thursday's resolution, the European Parliament said that it "rejects the principle of collective responsibility and emphatically reaffirms the need to combat every form of racism and xenophobia and all forms of discrimination and stigmatisation based on nationality and ethnic origin."
MEPs also stressed that the current EU rules allow member states to expel citizens of other countries under very limited and clearly defined conditions and national capitals should "conform" to them.