Volume 48 (2011) / Issue 3
In the summer of 2010, French authorities organized the systematic dismantling of illegal Roma settlements. This resulted in the departure of a large number of Roma-EU citizens from France, as well as a significant dispute between France and the European Commission. While the dispute raises a number of issues of substantive EU law, it also illustrates some important strengths and weaknesses in the system of fundamental rights protection in EU law. This article takes these events as a test case to illustrate that tackling complex problems of human rights protection in the EU requires a hybrid approach in which individual and institutional enforcement mechanisms are complemented by a third level of collective vigilance. While ever since Van Gend & Loos the EU has built a comprehensive system of individual and institutional remedies for the enforcement of EU law, social and political factors may limit their usefulness for vulnerable minorities. The vigilance of collective actors such as networks, NGOs, trade unions and agencies may offer a useful additional layer of protection where they are well-integrated within the classic system of remedies for fundamental rights protection in the EU.
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