Why the change of tone, particularly given the commission’s caution when Roma were being evicted from Italy last year?
First, events have spurred the commission into action. The French government had argued that the evictions were simply a matter of public order, and of preventing illegal migration; there was no question, Paris said, of targeting a particular ethnic group. The assurance was repeated at a meeting in Brussels
on August 31st between French ministers, including Mr Lellouche, and European commissioners.
But on September 9th a French website, “Le Canard Social”, published leaked instructions
from the French interior ministry telling prefects to evacuate 300 illegal camps within three months, with the Roma camps as “a priority
”. This was, said commission officials, the “smoking gun” that the French government had been less than candid.