The national and local decision-makers do not perceive the immigration of Roma as a natural occurrence in a united Europe but as a problem or even as a threat. The measures against Roma are accompanied by a massively populist rhetoric by the political protagonists.
Story · Manchester Metropolitan University
In their rhetoric they react to the horror scenarios painted in the media on the, one hand, and, on the other, they themselves add momentum to the racist discourse. Roma migration is systematically criminalised by links being established to human trafficking and gang criminality. Almost without any echo in the media, collective deportations of Roma took place in Denmark, Sweden, Belgium and Italy in recent years.
Native born citizens of Roma background and foreign Roma are combined and hustled into ghettos far outside the cities. In this way, the development of customised integration strategies are prevented for Roma from other member states FRA , p. In a loud public outcry could be heard when the Italian government introduced a biometric data bank in which the fingerprints of all Roma living in Italy were registered ERRC et al. The Italian policy towards Roma and numerous racist acts of violence against Roma in Italy and other Western EU countries directed attention to the European-wide dimension of the situation of Roma: In this way, the consequences of both EU enlargement and Roma exclusion combined to threaten not only the relationship between two member states but also the fundamental right to freedom of movement within the EU.
These troubling events all emphasized the often overlooked fact that systemic discrimination and sporadic violence against Roma are prevalent in Western Europe and are not confined to former Communist-ruled countries. Guy , p. In summer , employing massively incendiary rhetoric, the French government deported almost 1, Roma from France.
EU Citizenship, Roma Mobility and Anti-Gypsyism: Time for Reframing the Debate?
The measures of the French authorities represented a breach of several European legal norms, first of all that of freedom of movement within Europe: the restriction of movement for citizens of the Union is permitted only for reasons of maintenance of public order, security and health; a lack of financial means is not a sufficient reason for expulsion.
In addition, the French government would have had to observe the principle of proportionality and conduct examinations based on single cases. According to both Article 27 of the Directive on the Right to Move and Reside Freely and Article 19 of the Charta of Fundamental Rights collective deportations are forbidden — the only decisive factor must be the personal behaviour of those concerned. One particularity was the fact that the French government explicitly targeted Roma and thus selected them for expulsion on the basis of their ethnic background.
Thus, a circular letter of August 5, became public, according to which the French authorities were to concentrate deportation measures on the group of the Roma. The reaction of the European Parliament was resolute: In its decision of September 9, , the European Parliament emphasised that collective deportations are forbidden on the grounds of the Charta of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
They denounced the measures as discrimination and a breach of the Directive on the Right to Move and Reside Freely and regarded the European treaties as having been violated European Parliament Viviane Reding, European Commissioner of Justice at first remarked that the French government had guaranteed her that the practices were in compliance with EU-laws and were not explicitly targeting Roma. Until the middle of September the position of the commission remained ambivalent; after that, however, Reding announced that she would introduce treaty violation proceedings against France on the grounds of discriminatory application of the Directive on the Right to Move and Reside Freely.
As a consequence, the French authorities changed the circular by removing the explicit reference to the group of the Roma. In the end, the Commission did not institute treaty violation proceedings against France Ibid. Meanwhile the practice of evacuating Roma settlements and of deporting foreign Roma continues in France and Italy.
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The proceedings of French authorities against Roma who merely made use of their right to free movement show how vulnerable the biggest ethnic minority of the EU is. It also shows how much remains to be done in terms of the member states to make the right to inner-European migration a reality for Roma.
The incorrect application of the directive concerning free movement by national authorities regularly leads to the denial of rights and claims, those regarding social security, the access to the labour market and the registration of residence in particular. In the Affaire des Roms the French government demonstrated that it doubted the capacity of the European institutions to monitor the implementation of EU legislation.
Even if such proceedings would not have reversed the expulsions already carried out, these practices would have been stopped and a clear signal sent to France and other member states. Numerous initiatives and reports also dealing with Roma migration bear witness to this e. However, there are also voices warning against reducing the subject to a merely European one and thus letting the member states off the hook ICG , p. A pioneering role in supporting the Roma is played by the European Parliament: in the past its resolutions have repeatedly demanded of the member states and the European Commission that the social situation of the Roma be improved, that they be considered within the EU structural funds programmes, that racism and segregation should be fought and consciousness raised of the history of the Holocaust, to which , Roma fell victim.
The approach of the European Commission focuses on improving the social situation of Roma in its central and Eastern European member states. Among these the Roma Education Funds aim at the integration of Roma into national educational systems, as do numerous campaigns against the discrimination of Roma.
Implicitly, all these measures also aim at reducing migration. In the first place, migration is regarded as the undesirable consequence of extreme poverty, so that improvements in the home countries are to reduce the motivation for emigration.
In particular, the situation of migrants in the Western member states has been raised by the European Parliament rather than the Commission. The idea behind this European Framework Strategy is to implement more coherence and to oblige the member states to protect Roma.
However, it contains neither binding specifications nor sanctions in the event of non-observance. Controversial topics such as the protection of Roma as national minorities in all the countries of the Union and their structural participation were not given any attention Romani Rose , p. The issue of hostility towards Roma in particular was most scrupulously avoided, although it is this hostility that is at the bottom of numerous cases of discrimination and repression of Roma both in the countries of origin and in the target countries of migration.
Beyond the concrete effects of the Framework Strategy the omissions mentioned above again make visible a certain perspective of the European institutions on the migration of Roma. The mobility of the Roma […] remains largely apolitical in the sense that they are not seen to intentionally seek to renegotiate the structures of power and authority through their mobility. The Roma, who live in poverty and experience discrimination and racism in their countries of origin, […] are often represented as a disorderly mass of people made up of individuals frustrated with living conditions.
The importance of the Anti-Discrimination Directive in the struggle against exclusion and discrimination should not be underestimated, but it is not sufficient to break the structural exclusion of Roma and the vicious circle of miserable housing conditions, poor educational opportunities, unemployment and poverty De Schutter To tackle these problems the EU would need competences in the fields of social and educational politics, which it so far has not had.
That the causes of Roma migration cannot be overcome in the short term does not free the European Union of its obligation to improve the situation of migrants in the countries of destination. The European Union must enforce the observance of existing European standards and make use of its room for manoeuvre in favour of the Roma.
The consistent enforcement of European freedom of movement and the extension of rights through Union citizenship in particular play a crucial role for an active European Roma policy. The question of how the European Union tackles the migration of Roma will gain more relevance in the future. Often the living conditions of the Roma are the subject of discussion concerning current or possible accession negotiations e.
Nationalisms and the hostility to Roma are steadily on the rise, and the consequences of the crisis will continue to intensify the poverty among Roma in years to come. If the European Union does not only want to defend its values of freedom and equality on paper, a revision of the Roma Framework Strategy is required. This revision would have to include the questions hitherto omitted and hold responsible all member states, including the Western European ones, in binding regulations. Download graphics on the right: Roma in Europe , Source: Wikimedia.
The size of the wheel symbol represents total population by country Rumania 1. European Commission a. European Commission: Roma in Europe. European Commission b. European Parliament ICG Amnesty International: The Wrong Answer. Amnesty International: Italy. Aradau, Claudia et al. A proliferation of different forms of citizenship? ENAR ERIO Risk or Opportunity? ERRC Arrives by Friday, Oct 4. Pickup not available.
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‘What’s in a name?’ The Dilemmas of Re-Naming Yugoslav Gypsies into Roma
This book examines experiences of Romani political participation in eastern and western Europe, providing an understanding of the emerging political space that over 8 million Romani citizens occupy within the EU, and addressing issues related to the socio-political circumstances of Romani communities within European countries.
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