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A la recherche du Roma perdu

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By Christophe Cung. Translated by Leo Wasley As the Roma community becomes the pariah of Europe, will the European Council take time to finally address this issue? Inside the Justus Lipsius building, everyone’s focus is on the situation in Greece and Mario Draghi’s nomination as ECB President.

Since Jerzy Buzek’s inauguration, the issue of migration and "authorized refugees" has, not surprisingly, been little discussed, but nobody seems to care that the President of the European Parliament has called for the Romani question to be a priority for these two days.

However, the issue of closing borders under certain conditions was discussed. But could closed-borders now really exist in some Member States? If this were to come into force (to the great displeasure of the President of the Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, who is opposed to it), what consequences would this have on the "travellers"? Looking at the EU’s snazzy new website on ‘Free Movement and migration’, whose leaflets are spread across journalists’ tables in the lobby of the Justus Lipsius building, you initially feel hopeful. Its content, however, does not mention the Roma community.

Ironically, a statement coinciding with the summit from Amnesty International has revealed that the Roma people continue to be victims of forced evictions by the Romanian authorities. It seems that Bucharest’s legislation (which is in line with international law) is not applicable to them. The Gypsy community, the most vulnerable and marginalized group in Europe, suffers the most from legal and police restrictions. How then can we spark a renewed interest in the situation of Europe’s 10 million Roma people? Their future has never been treated as a priority. Will the accession of new states (the Roma population is twice as large as Croatia) finally push us to adopt new legislation concerning them? It does not seem wise to ignore such a thorny issue for much longer.