The Corner

Question for the EU Justice Minister: So If France Is the Nazis, What Does that Make Cher?

The European Union launched a rhetorical nuke against the French government’s policy of enforcing a French law that requires EU nationals to be able to support themselves or face expulsion if they migrate to a member state other than their own. The targets of the French government are the Roma, known to Americans as “gypsies” and immortalized by Cher.

The blast was the analogy drawn by EU justice minister Viviane Reding, who compared the Roma to Jews, the French to Nazis, and Romania to a death camp, according to this report in the Guardian. “Enough is enough,” she explained, and, if, she’s talking about her keen political skills, boy, is she right.

The EU’s regulations on internal migration are confusing. In theory, nothing should prevent a Romanian or a Bulgarian from turning up at a social-welfare office in Vence or Biarritz and asking for a roof and a snack. The EU waves potential membership in front of the poorest European countries to get them them to do as Brussels wishes, and an important part of its allure is the promise of the free movement of goods, services, and people.

In fact, Britain, Italy, France, Germany, Denmark, and most of Europe’s wealthier countries have found ways to avoid depopulating Eastern Europe. France’s gaffe was to target the Roma specifically. Tourists in Paris and Rome may be familiar with the social activities of the Roma; despite Reding’s easy analogy, they don’t seem to act Jewish. But then none of the rest of her offensive analogy holds up very well, either.

According to a report in the Southeast European Times, the deportations are fine with the Romanians and Bulgarians, who want to join the EU’s borderless Schengen zone. That means that when Paris sends a planeload of Roma to Sofia, a Bulgarian bus can drive them back to Paris, nonstop. The Bulgarian government also reserved the right to swoop down on camps of French people, stuff them into Speedos, and ship them back to Nice. This whole thing bodes well for the Bulgarian transportation sector.

France will be able to ride a rising anti-EU sentiment for quite some distance in defying Brussels. The EU is only marginally more popular in France than it is in Britain, where, as Daniel Hannan recently reported in the Telegraph, most Britons would like to bail on Brussels. So Paris will press on: As Le Monde points out, while the EU was preparing legal action against France yesterday, the gendarmes were busy packing 160 more gypsies and their luggage onto flights headed for Bucharest and Sofia.

Meanwhile, Hannan says, the EU continues its push for UN membership, possibly getting rid of those superfluous seats on the Security Council held by Britain and France. We may soon hear from the Roma delegate, instead.

Denis Boyles — Dennis Boyles is a writer, editor, former university lecturer, and the author/editor of several books of poetry, travel, history, criticism, and practical advice, including Superior, Nebraska (2008), Design Poetics (1975), ...

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