Beasley Von Burg, Alessandra (2009) Free to Move but Nowhere to Go: The European Union and the Roma Population. In: UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)
According to the European Union (EU) official website, after the 2004 EU enlargement to “new members in central and eastern Europe, the Roma population living in the EU now numbers several million.” This deserves EU attention because Roma communities in Europe, defined by the EU as “including those describing themselves as Roma, Gypsies, Travellers and Sinti….” have long faced and still face discrimination and persecution. The European Commission and other EU institutions have addressed the exclusion and discrimination of Roma with policies and programs that attempt to reach them at the EU level. While the EU encourages and supports individual nations’ efforts to include the Roma and to stop discrimination, the nature of this traditionally nomadic people seems to capture the spirit of freedom of movement, a fundamental right of almost all EU citizens. I argue that Roma can be an example of EU citizens who live, work, and study, or should be able to live, work, and study, across the EU territory, embodying the principle and practice of freedom of movement and representing the situation of people living beyond nations. Unlike other EU citizens, most Roma don't enjoy the protection, rights and benefits associated with national citizenship and even when they do, they are discriminated against and excluded from the opportunities available in both old and new EU Member States, where they reside. Based on my previous scholarship exploring the possibility of a residence-based EU citizenship not tied to nationality, I argue that EU institutions and diplomats are making important progress acknowledging the necessity to protect, respect and assist the Roma in their potential transition to EU citizens. However, these efforts and the assistance offered to Roma are, as of now, not enough to challenge and change years of discrimination and exclusion. EU funding, policies and activities stress the obvious necessity to protect Roma, who are state-less non-citizens who could and should be protected by and benefit from EU rights, particularly those of EU citizenship, and could and should be an example at the center of freedom of movement beyond nations, not at their margins.
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