15 Sep 2010

Legal action urged against France over deportations

6:03 am on 15 September 2010

European Union Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has urged the European Commission to take legal action against France over its deportations of Roma (gypsies).

Ms Reding called the French actions "a disgrace".

France voiced astonishment in response to her statement on Tuesday.

France's deportations of more than 1000 Roma to Bulgaria and Romania have been widely condemned.

The BBC reports the deportations began in early August, after President Nicolas Sarkozy linked illegal Roma camps with prostitution and child exploitation.

Critics see the crackdown as a way for Mr Sarkozy to boost his flagging popularity amid discontent over government cutbacks.

The BBC says Ms Reding's rebuke amounted to incredibly strong language from a European commissioner.