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French politicians cheer European social tourism ruling

A Roma family in a shanty town
A Roma family in a shanty town Charlie Dupiot

French politicians from most parties have hailed a European court decision to allow France and other European Union member states to clamp down on supposed “social tourism”.


The European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday that no member states are obliged to pay benefits to migrants who change countries solely to claim them.

On Wednesday the far-right eurosceptic Front National said the decision was proof that national interest prevailed and hoped it would change the shape of public debates on immigration.

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However, the ruling Socialist Party stressed that people should not to let the ruling be used to target specific communities in a reference from Roma who have migrated from eastern Europe.

Between 15-20,000 Roma are thought to be living in sordid conditions and shantytowns around the country.

"I want us to be very careful with this decision to avoid stigmatisation when there is a community in Europe today that lives in such poor conditions and widespread rejection as the Roma,” Socialist MP Bruno Le Roux told RFI. “This should not be considered an anti-Roma decision. The only way to go beyond this is harmonisation across all EU countries, so all social systems can respond to people's needs when they become sick or have other problems."

Hard-left MEP Jean-Luc Mélenchon disagreed with the consensus, however, accusing a journalist on RTL radio of ignoring “the king of cheats”, European Commission president and former Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker, whose country recently exposed as having a scheme to help big companies dodge taxes.


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