World Bulletin / News Desk
France will make it easier for Roma immigrants from eastern Europe to obtain work and residence rights, the government said on Wednesday, after years of expulsions and more police raids this month on makeshift campsites where they often live in squalor.
Socialist Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, under pressure to break with a practice the left condemned when conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy was in charge, announced the policy shift after meetings with leading ministers and representatives of the estimated 15-20,000 Roma people living in France.
Ayrault stopped short of promising to waive EU-approved rules that restrict job market access to citizens of Romania and Bulgaria, the native countries of many Roma, until the end of 2013. He said that was an issue France would now start to examine while more modest measures were undertaken first.
One of the main changes is a pledge to waive a hefty tax French employers must pay to the immigration office if they hire a Romanian or Bulgarian worker - a levy that can run as high as 1,800 euros ($2,200), government figures show.
A government-approved list of jobs that are considered open to Roma people, which now stands at 150 and includes trades such as roofers, will be extended, according to a statement by Ayrault's office.
Two weeks ago, police evicted around 300 people from illegal campsites near the cities of Lille and Lyon and sent 240 of them on a plane back to Romania. The swooops recalled a crackdown two years before for which Sarkozy drew international criticism.
While Romania and Bulgaria have been members of the European Union since 2007, their citizens - Roma included - are subject to curbs on employment elsewhere in the EU until the end of 2013 imposed to slow what some countries at the time feared would be an excessive influx of immigrants looking for work and welfare.
Romanians and Bulgarians must now get work permits to stay legally beyond three months in a host country, meaning that many end up going underground and living in camps near motorway junctions on the edges of major cities, once their time is up.
"The Roma people are EU citizens like anyone else and would like to work like anyone else," Malik Salemkour, a human rights activist who met Ayrault with others to argue for change, told reporters.
The Brussels-based European Commission, which has the job of monitoring respect for EU treaties and clashed with Sarkozy over the immigrant issue, said it was again monitoring the situation in France after the early-August raids.
The Council of Europe, a broader governmental organisation dedicated to ensuring respect for human right, has also urged France to seek a lasting solution for Roma immigrants, most of whom fled poverty and sometimes persecution in their homelands.
Socialist President Francois Hollande promised a solution to the Roma issue during his election campaign.
Nasdaq climbs above 6,000 points for first time in history
BIST 100 index hits new record high on Wednesday morning; US dollar/Turkish lira rate stands around 3.58
BIST 100 index starts Tuesday with a new record high; US dollar/Turkish lira rate stands at around 3.57
Borsa Istanbul's BIST 100 index exceeds 93,400 points during Monday transactions
The French vote was being closely watched as a bellwether for populist sentiment following the election of Donald Trump as US president and Britain's vote to leave the EU.
IFC CEO Philippe Le Houerou said the fund will "lower the risk for the private sector and attract new investors -- essentially creating a market where there was none."
BIST 100 index opens 0.67 percent higher, US dollar/Turkish lira rate stands at around 3.64
Tightening monetary policies will continue to achieve lower inflation levels, Murat Cetinkaya says
Company will manage operations in 65 countries through Turkey, says head of healthcare group
"We might have to extend in order to reach the target... of stock levels," Khalid al-Falih told an energy forum in Abu Dhabi, referring to a deal between OPEC and non-OPEC producers to cut production by around 1.8 million barrels per day.
BIST 100 index opens 0.40 percent higher; US dollar/Turkish lira rate stands at around 3.66
Crude prices plummet to two-and-a-half month low
Businesses in Turkey expect structural reforms following referendum, says rating agency
"We are optimistic that the policy measures we have taken already place us on the path of recovery," OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo said at an energy forum in Abu Dhabi.
The IMF said "hundreds of millions" of people have been lifted out of poverty through economic integration and technological progress, "helping to reduce global income inequality."