Thursday, September 9, 2010
ROMANI REFLECTS ON FRANCE'S DEPORTATION OF ROMANI
The sudden collapse of the European Union in the summer months of 2010 took many by surprise. Although the writing was perhaps on the wall, I don't think I expected the death of the Union to come quite so quickly. Now that we know that the Union makes laws in the field of human rights that it has no intention of enforcing, it is for all intents and purposes gone for the vast majority of Europeans (“A policy in search of a defence”, 2-8 September).
Looking back on the Union, there will be many things I will miss. I remember with great hope the promise of EU citizenship, included in the Maastricht treaty. What would it mean for us Europeans? The future seemed all ahead of us. I recall how, following the Treaty of Amsterdam, the Union made a major law banning racial discrimination. I remember how, in the wake of the Austria crisis in 2000, the Union took on new powers in the form of Treaty Article 7 to take action against an EU member state that departed from the fundamental common values of the Union. And I remember that in 2003 the Commission explained that these powers might be invoked when “the first signs of, for instance, racist or xenophobic policies will have become visible”.
Now we know it is all gone, a Goliath edifice brought crashing down by David, in the form of the French president. My village in south-western Romania is filling up with former Europeans. Of course, the statements by Viviane Reding, the European commissioner for justice, and good-willed MEPs are welcome, but without a vigorous, public, institutional response, they are like so much hair growing on a corpse.
Of course, we Romani Europeans are not the only people who have noticed the disappearance of the EU. There are many who have waited for this moment eagerly. Take, for instance, the Czech media and public officials who suddenly in August began calling Czech Roma “foreigners”. Or the Hungarian politicians who began last week calling for a round-up of Roma into camps. Or the Italian moves to redouble the destruction of Romani housing and seek limitations of the free movement of Roma. These have always wondered whether the EU's law is Law, or ‘law'. And now they know and are happy.
In fact, we all know. A government that makes laws it has no intention of enforcing is not a government. And the laws it makes are not really laws.
We Europeans are better attuned than some people think at knowing exactly what the rules are. For a time, we lived under the happy delusion that the EU was a law-making force, intent on upholding the values it proclaimed, and enforcing the rules it made to support these values. Now that the EU is gone, racist forces all over Europe know their day has come.
Can the Union revive itself? It has on previous occasions, in other scenarios. But that would involve a vigorous institutional response, meaning the initiation of legal proceedings against member states that contravene EU law. This would need to be done publicly – we Europeans need to know. Otherwise, may the Union rest in peace, its former glory honoured for the hope it briefly gave us.
Banloc, Timis County
Posted by Morgan at 1:22 PM