Speaking on French radio, Viviane Reding says more needs to be done to prevent what she calls “a lost generation”.
“If we don’t educate these children, if we don’t help them find a normal job, they will become another lost generation. In 10 years, we may see the same problems we saw this summer with the dismantling of illegal camps. We don’t want to see this,” she told France Info.
“Our generation has the responsibility to ensure that, instead of illegal camps, there are normal houses for these people; that girls don’t have children at 12 years old, and that children go to school,” she continued.
There are believed to be around 5,000 to 7,000 Roma children in France, but a study in 2009 found very few of them go to school regularly.
The French government’s decision to dismantle camps around Paris and Lyon this summer has angered rights groups and parts of the political left.
In 2010, Reding criticised the government of former president Nicolas Sarkozy for expelling hundreds of Roma from France.