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France may end Roma migrant work ban

media Roma are thrown out of a camp in Villeurbanne on the outskirts of Lyon AFP/Philippe Desmazes

France may scrap a ban on Bulgarians and Romanians working in an effort to defuse a row over the dismantling of camps by Roma from the two countries. A meeting of minsters will discuss the move next week, Interior Minister Maunel Valls said Thursday.

France is one of several European countries which refused to allow migrants from Bulgaria and Romania unrestricted access to their labour markets when the two countries joined the European Union in 2007, when right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy was president.

Parliamentary elections 2012

One of the EU’s founding principles was the free movement of labour and the ban must be phased out by the end of 2013.

The move meant that Romanians and Bulgarians can be deported because they cannot demonstrate that they can support themselves and were followed by controversial raids on Roma camps in 2010.

Valls gave the go-ahead for raids on Roma camps near Lyon and Lille last week, sparking criticism from members of his own party, and Green members of the government.

Housing Minister Cécile Duflot, a member of the Green party EELV, welcomed Valls’s latest declaration, as did Roma rights group La Voix des Rroms (Roma Voice).

The far-right Front National accused Valls of making a priority of finding work for Roma when he should be helping French citizens get jobs.

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