German foreign minister: “German-French relations are absolutely stable.”

While frustration is taking hold in Europe over financial matters, there appears to be a [distracting?] diplomatic row brewing over France’s repatriation of Roma immigrants

The BBC’s Gavin Hewitt noted a “fierce row” between the French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, following condemnation of France’s actions by the EU Commission.

The French President, Nicolas Sarkosy, then invoked the support of German Chancellor, Angela Merkel – only for that alleged support to be denied.

But, as a BBC report noted

The BBC’s Oana Lungescu in Brussels says that privately German diplomats dismiss as pure invention Mr Sarkozy’s claim that Germany is prepared to follow France’s example.

Yet the issue of Roma expulsions touches a raw nerve in Germany, our correspondent says.

Under a deal agreed in April, 14,000 refugees are to be returned to Kosovo – 10,000 of them Roma.

The UN children’s agency Unicef warned that half of the Roma to be deported are children, most of whom were born and raised in Germany. But unlike the Roma that France is expelling to Romania and Bulgaria, they do not enjoy the right to return, because they are not EU citizens.

Most of the Roma in Germany live in homes and hostels, not in camps.

And the Irish Times today

The Élysée Palace made no comment on the denial from Berlin yesterday, but senior figures on both sides sought to play down the significance of the episode.

French minister for European affairs Pierre Lellouche insisted there was no problem in Franco-German relations, while German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle also struck a diplomatic tone. “I can only attribute this to a misunderstanding,” he said in Berlin. “German-French relations are absolutely stable.”

Adds  Crooked Timber’s John Quiggin adds

If the Parliament and Commission prevail, as they should, it seems to me that this will change the effective political structure of the EU, in the direction of a federal democracy.

Hmm… I’m not sure they will “prevail”…

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  • Alan Maskey

    People who stand up for Romas, Africans, thieves etc should be made house and hose them. The riff raff who marched in London today would make good landlords. Give them something else to do besides wreck Saturday afternoon shopping.
    Gerry Adams likes to speak up for Africans and Romas as that is the thing to do. His holiday home could house a qaure few of them.

  • William Markfelt

    This is a disgraceful comment.

    Equating Romas and Africans (i.e. black people) with thieves is racist, pure and simple.

  • Dr Concitor

    And again in English Alan.

  • The French will make sure they kiss and make up with the Germans, there is no ongoing problem there.

    The issue of the Roma is difficult, but the way the French are handling it appears to be, not only wrong, but extremely racist. You cannot have freedom of movement between member states and deny a particular group that freedom.

    The Germans and Europe in general are right, France will, quietly, stop their expulsions.

  • DC

    “A plane ticket to one’s country of origin in the European Union is not a death train, and is not the gas chamber”

    Didn’t Ireland – the Republic of – not do a similar thing?

  • DC

    A plane ticket to one’s country of origin in the European Union is not a death train, and is not the gas chamber”

    Didn’t Ireland – the Republic of – not do a similar thing?

    I did not suggest it was a ‘death train’. I said it was wrong to single out a particular race for exclusion and IMO Ireland or anywhere else doing the same would not make it right.

  • DC

    Oh sorry I was quoting a French EU minister and then it reminded me of what Ireland did.