EU backs down from comparing French expulsions to Nazi deportations

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The European Commission has stepped back from formally accusing France of carrying out racist expulsions of Roma gipsies despite previously comparing the policy to Nazi deportations.

Viviane Reding, the EU’s fundamental rights commissioner, dropped her previous accusation that the “disgraceful” policy amounted to illegal discrimination against gipsies.

Instead, she warned France that it was in technical breach of EU law by failing to properly incorporate a 2004 free movement directive into national law, a substantial softening of her previous position.

The case has strained relations between Paris and Brussels after an angry confrontation between Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, and senior Commission officials at an EU summit on Sep 16.

Mrs Reding was forced to withdraw her comparison of the Roma policy with Vichy France’s Second World War collaboration with Nazi round-ups of ethnic minorities after President Nicolas Sarkozy demanded an apology for a “disgusting and shameful attack on the honour of France”....

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