On Monday, 25 October 2010, Eric Besson, Minister for Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Mutually-Supportive Development, had a meeting with Jean Godfroid, Préfet (1) and Director General of the Office français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration [OFII – French Office for Immigration and Integration].
Between 1 January and 17 October 2010, 8,601 Romanian nationals illegally present in France were returned to their country of origin, 1,154 of whom were forcibly repatriated and 7,447 went back voluntarily.
OFII funded, in 2009, 146 projects for reintegrating Roma in Romania, with a total aid package of €709,560. Since the beginning of 2010, 73 projects have been financed, with a total aid package of €354,780.
The European Commission has decided to set up a task force to increase Member States’ use of structural funds for integrating Roma, and asked the Romanian authorities to establish a plan to reintegrate the Roma, drawing on the structural funds.
Without waiting for this plan to be drawn up, Eric Besson is keen for France to play an exemplary role in the reintegration in Romania of Romanian nationals illegally present in France. He has asked for a new French reintegration assistance programme to be set up for 2011, so that these Romanians can be offered genuine help in their reintegration process through the sustainable creation of activities and jobs. Those French local authorities wishing to do so will be able to participate. The programme will have a budget of €1 million. Eric Besson has asked the OFII Director General to organize a mission to Romania in the next few weeks in order to finalize its establishment in partnership with the Romanian authorities, and prepare a future visit by the Minister.
Indeed, in accordance with the joint ministerial statement adopted during Eric Besson’s visit to Bucharest on 9 September 2010, the Romanian authorities have pledged to do the utmost to integrate their nationals, in particular by adopting an inclusion plan for the Roma before the end of the year.
Eric Besson announced that, from 1 January 2011, France will make available to the Romanian government a technical expert, who will be attached to the [Romanian] Minister of State responsible for the social integration of the Roma, Valentin Mocanu.
On Thursday, 28 October 2010, Eric Besson will have a meeting with Bogdan Mazuru, the new Romanian Ambassador to France, to prepare this new reintegration assistance programme.
“After the European Commission’s decision of 19 October to abandon launching infringement proceedings [against France] for incomplete transposition of certain Directives, and the Conseil d’Etat’s (2) rejection on 21 October of the applications regarding the legality of the OSCAR (3) database on European nationals given humanitarian return assistance, France is demonstrating with this new French reintegration assistance programme that she intends to remain the driving force in the gradual development of a European immigration policy which is both firm and humane”, concluded Eric Besson./.
(1) high-ranking civil servant who represents the State at the level of the department or region.
(2) supreme administrative court which also advises the government on legislation.
(3) Outil de Statistique et de Contrôle de l’Aide au Retour [Tool for Repatriation Aid, Statistics and Control] – a biometric database used to ensure that no one returning to his/her country receives more than one humanitarian assistance grant.