Despite the rhetoric of the EU as the "EUSSR", a neo-liberal project or as some sort of Papist plot, Europe holds an - at times, surprising - amount of moral authority, even in the more Eurosceptic member states. This is probably because of the practice of using "Europe" as a continental yardstick (e.g. highest cancer death rate in Europe; lowest teenage pregnancy in Europe), and because of the legal certainty the EU and ECHR can lend to policies (if the European Court of Human Rights rules on something, it carries a lot of legal and moral authority, even if legal academics continue to argue and debate the reasoning).
Which is why I wrote an open letter to President Barroso, Commissioner Reding and European Council President Van Rompuy on the Roma issue, urging them to speak out (NOTE: the refusal of the Commission website to relay my email to Barroso, and the chore of moving house have meant that I only managed to send a paper version to Barroso earlier this week). While the EU has issued statements that they will monitor the legal status and treatment of the Roma, there is an important role for the Europarties and EU institutions to speak out for equality and rights (though they obviously need to be held to account on this score as well). So it was good to see Commissioner Reding finally making the wider argument for tolerance (hat tip @dicknieuwenhuis and @Anna_EU_webteam).
However, the argument against mass explusions and for equal treatment needs to be made continuously, and, in the future, the response should be faster. France's calls for a exclusive immigration summit and calls that the EU decide a "coordinated response" on how to "deal" with the Roma's deportation show that national politicians and leaders who support discrimination against the Roma as a group know that the nation-state is a badly tarnished vehicle for carrying out their prejudices. These summits and immigration meetings are attempts to legitimise Roma explusions as "the norm" and "legally acceptable".
So we need to keep making the case for tolerance and equal treatment at the European level. If we don't, one day we'll find discrimination being legitimised in Europe's name.