The deportation of Roma minorities by France has been condemned as a "disgrace" in an unprecedented attack on a member state by a European Commissioner.
Europe's Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, launched an angry tirade after weeks of tension over the French policy of Roma expulsions.
"Over the past weeks, the European Commission has been following very closely the developments in France regarding the Roma," she said in a statement in Brussels.
"I personally have been appalled by a situation which gave the impression that people are being removed from a member state of the EU just because they belong to a certain ethnic minority. This is a situation I had thought Europe would not have to witness again after the Second World War."
Her outburst continued: "This is not a minor offence in a situation of this importance - after 11 years of experience in the Commission, I would even go further: this is a disgrace.
"Let me be very clear: discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin or race has no place in Europe. It is incompatible with the values on which the European Union is founded.
"National authorities who discriminate ethnic groups in the application of EU law are also violating the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which all member states, including France, have signed up to."
Ms Reding went on: "I therefore find it deeply disturbing that a member state calls so gravely into question, by the actions of its administration, the common values and the law of our European Union."