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Roma migrants, the EU and the politics of integration in the UK

Roma migrants, the EU and the politics of integration in the UK

Smith, David M. (2014) Roma migrants, the EU and the politics of integration in the UK. In: Hara, A. and Taya, S.L., (eds.) Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on International Studies (ICIS) 2014: Globalization and Nation States. Universiti Utara Malaysia, Malaysia, pp. 1224-1246.

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The Roma (Gypsies) are a semi-nomadic people of Indian origins and are Europe’s largest minority group with a population of 10-12 million. Despite the EU Directive on Racial Equality and the adoption of National Roma Integration Strategies by member states, discrimination and marginalisation means that they are the poorest and most socially excluded group in Europe and have been frequent targets of racist attacks by neo-fascist groups as well as forced deportations which are in violation of the fundamental principle of freedom of movement for EU citizens. From the late 1990s an estimated 12-15,000 Roma filed asylum claims and began to leave Eastern Europe. Large-scale westward migration of the Roma followed A8 accession to the EU in 2004 and more recently following the accession of Romani and Bulgaria. The UK now has one of the largest Roma populations in the EU with an estimated population of 200,000 (in addition to 200-300,000 indigenous Gypsies and Travellers).

This paper examines the political and policy response to the arrival of significant numbers of Roma migrants to the UK from mainland Europe in recent years in the context of growing anti-EU sentiment on one hand and a parallel critique of multicultural approaches to managing migration on the other. Roma migration symbolises all that is 'wrong' with the EU, crystallising increasing fears over large scale immigration and contributing to the rise of the anti-EU political party the UK Independence Party (UKIP). In particular the paper explores how the media and politically inspired moral panic surrounding the Roma – dominated by discourses of criminality and welfare dependency – and a 'mainstreaming' approach to Roma integration paradoxically inhibits integration strategies at a local level, limiting the inclusionary potential of such policies and the assimilation of Roma populations.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: The 5th International Conference on International Studies was held from 1st to 3rd December 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Roma; Migration; EU; Social policy; EU expansion
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > Centre for Applied Sociology Research (CASR)
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2021 00:03

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