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Roma migration in the EU: The case of Spain between 'new' and 'old' minorities

  • The Czech Academy of Sciences & University of A Coruña


The 2004 and 2007 EU Eastern enlargements facilitated the mobility of citizens from CEE countries, including European citizens of Roma ethnicity, which in turn contributed to the Europeanization of the 'Roma issue'. This article examines the politics of Roma ethnicity by giving a concise, yet we hope comprehensive, overview of how recent Roma migrations from EU Member States (particularly from Romania) to Spain can be understood and analysed in relation to both pre-existing policies for the Spanish Gitano communities and to wider European dynamics and structures.
May 2016
Volume: 13, No: 2, pp. 228 241
ISSN: 1741-8984
e-ISSN: 1741-8992
Copyright @ 2016 MIGRATION LETTERS © Transnational Press London
Article history: Received 30 June 2015; accepted 30 October 2015
‘Roma’ migration in the EU: the
case of Spain between ‘new’ and
‘old’ minorities
Tina Magazzini
Stefano Piemontese
The 2004 and 2007 EU Eastern enlargements facilitated the mobility of citizens from
CEE countries, including European citizens of Roma ethnicity, which in turn
contributed to the Europeanization of the ‘Roma issue’. This article examines the
politics of Roma ethnicity by giving a concise, yet we hope comprehensive, overview
of how recent Roma migrations from EU Member States (particularly from Romania)
to Spain can be understood and analysed in relation to both pre-existing policies for
the Spanish Gitano communities and to wider European dynamics and structures.
Keywords: Roma migration; diversity management; Gitanos; integration;
ethnopolicies; Spain
In recent years, no other ethnic minority in Europe has received the same kind
of attention from the academia than the Roma
. Following the migration flows
in the 1990s from ex-Yugoslavia, but even more in the aftermath of the 2004
and 2007 EU enlargement to Central and Eastern European states, Romani
studies have shifted from a prevalently anthropological matter to a more
interdisciplinary approach. This approach has seen the merging of fields such
as migration research and European policy-making.
Tina Magazzini, Human Rights Institute, University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain and School of
Global Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom. E-mail:
Stefano Piemontese, Center for Policy Studies, Central European University, Hungary and
Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain.
The usage of the term Roma has been the subject of intense debates both among scholars and
policy makers (Matras 2013; Surdu 2015). ‘Roma’ is tautologically used by European policies to
refer to a range of different groups commonly known as Gypsies, Travellers, Manouches,
Ashkali, Sinti and Boyash that are identified as ‘Roma’. Although we do not use it in brackets, in
this article the term ‘Roma’ should be always understood as a politically constructed expression.
For the purpose of semplification this article uses the term ‘Roma migrants’ to refer to Romanian
or Bulgarian individuals identified or who self-identify as Țigani or Tsigani living in Spain. The
term Gitano(s) is used, instead, to refer to the Spanish Roma or Caló population. We use the
formulation ‘Gitano/Roma’ when referring to the Spanish policies for Gitanos, because these
policy schemes have been adopting the EU discourse on ‘Roma’ as such, identifying Gitanos as
‘Roma’, and targeting also non-Spanish Roma coming from other European countries.
Magazzini and Piemontese 229
Copyright @ 2016 MIGRATION LETTERS © Transnational Press London
Within this strand of research, the main goal of this paper is to understand
how academic research and policies for ‘new’ Roma minorities draw upon,
challenge, or complement traditional approaches to ‘old’ Roma minorities. We
ask ourselves what the criteria for the comparisons we have to make between
‘old’ and ‘new’ Roma are, and whether we should deal with Roma migration on
its own, or understand it in terms of wider structures.
We begin by giving a bird’s eye view of the increasingly complex landscape
of Romani westward migration in Europe in terms of political rights, legal
statuses, recognition, cultural identity and access to social security. We then
move on to make explicit the kind of theoretical and practical consequences
that the policies for ‘old Roma’ present with respect to the new Roma migrants
by analyzing the Spanish case. We consider Spain to be a particularly compelling
case-study because it has a long history of Gitano/Roma-targeted policies and
it is also one of the main receiving countries for Romanian migrants of Roma
ethnicity. Finally, we draw some tentative conclusions on the need to
problematize specific ‘diversity management’ measures in ways that take into
account the possible draw-backs, unwanted side-effects or even counter-
productive consequences of ethnically targeted integration policies.
The debate on European ‘Roma’: one minority or many?
Despite their long historical presence in Europe, the Roma population
started to be perceived as a European ‘issue’ in occasion of the 2004 and 2007
EU enlargements. The European Union enlargements made migration easier to
both the Roma and the rest of EU citizens from Eastern towards Western
and triggered a new debate giving Roma minorities an unprecedented
. Even though migration was the trigger of the increased attention that
European political bodies started paying to Roma (Bíró, Gheorghe, and Kovats
2013; O’Nions 2011), this led to an increased focus on the situation and status
of Eastern Roma migrants, but also of Western European Roma citizens. The
EU Roma Policy Framework published by the European Commission in 2011
requested all Member States to develop National Roma Integration Strategies
“to ensure that Roma are not discriminated against but treated like any other
EU citizen with equal access to all fundamental rights as enshrined in the EU
Charter of Fundamental Rights” (European Commission 2011). The strategies,
however, rarely make a distinction between nationals and non-nationals,
through what has been called “a lumping of the lumped” (Picker 2014), and in
their current form, they tend to address more the former than the latter. Roma
transnational mobility thus reawakens and shifts the policy and philosophical
Nationals from Eastern EU countries (EU8+2) residing in Western EU (EU15) raised from 1.6
million in 2003 to 4.8 million in 2009, the half of which being Romanians and Bulgarians (OECD
2012: 65).
Such debates see the ‘normal’ predicaments associated with migrant integration mixed with the
preoccupation of Western European countries towards a minority that is perceived as presenting
special challenges in terms of cultural integration (Stewart 2012).
230 ‘Roma’ migration in the EU
debates on the relation between European, national and local contexts.
Furthermore, the coexistence of ‘national’ and ‘immigrant’ Roma on a same
territory, as well as under the same policy framework raises potential issues in
terms of the stereotyped and racialized perceptions that might be ‘transferred’
from one group to the other. The departing point of this article is therefore that
the integration frameworks adopted by old EU Member States in response to
Roma westward migration can represent a good litmus test to evaluate Europe’s
ability and willingness to translate the principles of solidarity and cultural
diversity into policies and practices.
Othering, old and new
As O’Nions stated in 2011, when a European strategy for Roma integration
had just been approved by the European Parliament, “the issue of Roma
inequality has been on the EU agenda for some considerable time yet this may
be the first time that the scale of inequality has been apparent to politicians in
the west. Free movement and residence rights have facilitated Roma migration
to Western Europe and this has meant that it is no longer possible to view the
issue as the responsibility of CEE state” (O’Nions 2011). Indeed, while the
marginalization and discrimination experienced by Roma minorities in Europe
is not new, the political relevance of this issue has bolstered in the last decade,
both at the European and national levels. This, in turn, has meant that there
has been the need for policy-makers and administrators to define ‘who the
Roma are’, and frame their presence and status in legal and policy terms.
Historically (and contemporary history is no exception), Roma have been
depicted as an ‘issue’ because of their distinctiveness from majority populations.
The 2006 Final Report on the Human Rights Situation of the Roma, Sinti and
Travelers in Europe for the Attention of the Committee of Ministers and the
Parliamentary Assembly (Gil-Robles 2006) stressed that European societies
have traditionally perceived Roma as “Others, as foreigners in their home
countries”, and treated them as such. As a number of scholars have noted (see
for example Bíró et al. 2013; Blasco 2002), the construction of otherness as the
main feature of Roma-Gadje (non-Roma) relations in Europe is a product of
processes that have been cultivated on both sides, and has been a part of dealing
with Romani groups for centuries (Agarin et al. 2014; Carrasco and Bereményi
2011). Intense debates on policy definitions of Roma, particularly on the
vagueness of the present-day category ‘Roma’ in the EU discourse, have so far
led to no shared consensus on whether integration should concern cultural
recognition, socio-economic redistribution, ethnicity or lifestyle. Indeed, one of
the main difficulties is that ‘integrated Roma’ are often regarded as not (or no
longer) ‘true Roma’ or ‘genuine Roma’, and thus fall out of the scope of
The status of ‘other’ has become so deeply-rooted and integral to the image and understanding
of ‘who the Roma are’ (and who they are not) that it becomes difficult to retain such identification
while acting as part of the majority society (Messing 2014). Many policies are aimed to ‘Roma’
Magazzini and Piemontese 231
Copyright @ 2016 MIGRATION LETTERS © Transnational Press London
Some authors have interpreted the politics of exclusion and expulsion of
Eastern European Roma migrants from Western European countries as a
symptomatic paradox of European identity: it “reflects a construct of European
identity which views the Roma as outsiders who have no legitimate claim to the
bundle of rights given to the true European citizens” (O’Nions 2011). This is
striking, especially because it has been in these same recent times that European
institutions have declared the Roma a ‘true European minority’ and that Roma
culture and traditions have been recognized and embraced officially as a
contribution to European identity (Council of Europe 1993; Liégeois 2007;
Soros and Thorbjørn 2015).
The proposed measures to address the ‘Roma issue’ have varied widely and
have often been contradictory: while recent EU directives have put a strong
emphasis on the non-ethnicization of integration measures (starting from the
Copenhagen criteria, and followed by the Racial Equality Directive 2000/43,
the Employment Equality Directive 2000/78, and so forth), on the other hand
most international initiatives assume that social inclusion can be pursued
alongside promoting the cultural identity of the Roma minority.
approaches both stem from what Vermeersch (2013) identified, together with
migration, as being one of the main causes for a European policy on Roma
starting from the Nineties: an increased attention to human rights in general,
and to minority rights in particular. The focus of the policies depends on which
rights (group rights or individual rights) are seen as the most important, and
both have pros and cons.
While an individual-focused color-blind anti-discrimination approach might
overlook patterns connected to structural racism, group cultural recognition
policies might foster what van Baar dubbed as a ‘reasonable anti-Gypsysm’ (van
Baar 2014), as the fostering of cultural identity tends to ethnicize the issue. Also,
such ethnic or cultural policies might involuntarily contribute to the
essentialization of the Roma as a single group in the minds of the majority
Despite the fact that Roma minorities have always been seen as ‘foreigners’
to European mainstream societies, they differ widely in terms of historical and
national backgrounds, language, religion, education, status, income levels, and
so on.
Making a distinction between historical and immigrant Roma, and de-
essentializing the ‘Roma category’ opens up a series of questions: is the social
and economic disadvantage in which many Roma find themselves similar
amongst ‘old’ and ‘new’ Roma communities in Western Europe, or not? Do
only insofar as they represent an impoverished and marginalized group. Roma ‘middle class’ are,
in this sense, despite the EU ‘ethnic’ definition, not ‘Roma’ for the purpose of targeted measures.
This is the case of the 2005-2015 Decade of Roma Inclusion, of the 2011 European
Commission call for National Roma Integration Strategies, and also of paramount policy
documents such as the 2012 UNPD “Opportunities for Roma Inclusion”.
232 ‘Roma’ migration in the EU
they face the same challenges, and should different or similar integration
policies be adopted for these groups?
To address these issues in more practical terms, it is useful to take a look at
the Spanish case, which is usually upheld as a positive example of successful
Roma policies. Recent surveys however, raise the issue of the difficulty of
incorporating the ‘new’ Roma in the ‘old’ framework (see Bereményi and Mirga
Love at first sight? ‘Eastern European Roma’ in the Spanish policies
for Gitanos
Spain became one of the countries of destination of Roma from South-
Eastern Europe in the early Nineties. Whilst during the first period of time they
arrived in Spain as refugees, they soon became part of the broader phenomenon
of Romanian and Bulgarian intra-European mobility, migrating in search of
better work opportunities (Macías León 2005: 90). It was in the last decade,
however, that their presence began to increase quite significantly due to the
2001 suppression of the Schengen visa requirement for Romanian and
Bulgarian citizens (MSSSI 2012a: 12). Especially after the 2007 EU enlargement
and the mass evictions from Italy and France, Roma immigrants became very
visible in the Spanish political and media agenda (Beluschi Fabeni et al. 2013;
López Catalán and Aharchi 2012; Piemontese, Castellsagué Bonada, and
Bereményi 2014). Nonetheless, unlike other countries, their presence was never
framed as a ‘national problem’. To date, Romanian and Bulgarian Roma citizens
living in Spain are estimated to be somewhere between 50.000 (MSSSI 2012a:
12) and 170,000 (López Catalán 2012; Slávkova 2010).
On the other hand, the Gitano (Spanish Roma) population is the largest
national minority in Spain. Since the mid-Eighties it has been the target of
specific policies aimed to compensate their historical socio-economic
Given these conditions, during the last decade, Roma
migrants have tended to fall either into existing general immigration policies or
in specific policies for Gitanos (FRA 2009c: 6567). Their incorporation in the
previous work with Gitanos took place in three phases and was promoted by
three different actors: the private non-profit-making sector, the regional
administrations, and the national governments.
Despite (or because of) harsh situations of poverty, institutional violence,
racism, and conflicts with the majority population, Gitano and pro-Gitano
The lack of official records on the ethnic background and the phenomenon of ‘identity
negotiation’ are some of the methodological and theoretical difficulties that hinder the processing
of statistics on Roma in general, and Roma migrants in particular. The number of Roma migrants
has been usually calculated considering their estimated proportion in the society of origin, and
applying it to the stock of the migrants with the same nationality.
Spanish Gitanos are somewhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000. The estimates reported in the
Estrategia Nacional para la Inclusión Social de la Población Gitana (MSSSI 2012) is of 725,000-750,000,
the same evaluation that the Council of Europe makes in its official website. This accounts for
approximately 1,5%-2% of the whole population residing in Spain.
Magazzini and Piemontese 233
Copyright @ 2016 MIGRATION LETTERS © Transnational Press London
organizations did not defend the rights of immigrant Roma up until 2005-2007
(see Piemontese and Beluschi Fabeni 2014). Only when the international
context turned Roma migration into a political issue and the European
Commission started to financially support projects aimed at ‘the Roma’ did
these organizations start to address the needs of the ‘new’ Roma. While the
local Gitano population looked at the newcomers as potential competitors for
scarce resources, Gitano or pro-Gitano organizations realized that by adopting
the EU discourse and terminology on ‘Roma’ they would have gained easy
access to the funds for the social intervention with these new beneficiaries.
Around the same time, regional governments started taking measures to deal
with the expected increase in the number of Roma immigrants. In the words of
the Fundamental Rights Agency, Spain became an example for broadening its
national Roma-specific policy in order to positively include Roma from other
Member States (FRA 2009a). Indeed, several regional policies on Gitanos did
include non-Spanish Roma as a target population of their actions. It is
noteworthy that a number of regional differences and of political contexts
resulted in a variety of methods of incorporating Roma from other Member
States in the already existing regional policies for Gitanos: a part from the
Estrategia Nacional para la Inclusión Social de la Población Gitana (the National Roma
Integration Strategy in Spain), there are currently five Spanish regions that have
adopted ‘Gitano Plans’: Basque Country, Navarra, Catalonia, Extremadura and
The Basque Plan (Plan Vasco Para la Promoción Integral y la Participación Social
del Pueblo Gitano, 2004-2007 and 2008-2011) takes generically into account “the
increase in the immigration of Roma people” and supports the realization of a
diagnostic study on Portuguese and Romanian Roma but it only targets the
descendants of the Gitano families immigrated to the Bask Country from other
parts of Spain during the first half of the XX century. On the other hand, the
more recent Navarrese Plan (Primer Plan Integral de Atención a la Población Gitana
de Navarra, 2011-2014) explicitly addresses the situation of the “increasing
number of immigrant Roma living in a condition of serious social exclusion”
and incorporates ‘Eastern European Roma’ as equal beneficiaries of the whole
Plan. However, one of the most relevant regional attempts to incorporate Roma
from other Member States in a broader policy measure for Gitanos is the case
of Catalonia. Here, the official recognition of both Gitano identity and culture
as integrating part of the Catalan society
culminated in the approval of the Pla
Integral del Poble Gitano a Catalunya (2005-2008 and 2009-2013). The Plan
recognizes ‘the Roma’ as a trans-European people. In particular, the first edition
considers the presence of ‘Eastern European Roma’ in Catalonia as an
opportunity for Gitanos to recover the lost Romani language through the
recruitment of Eastern European Roma as Romani teachers and lecturers.
Parlament de Catalunya. 2001. “Resolució 1046/VI Del Parlament de Catalunya, sobre el
eeconeixement de la identitat del Poble Gitano i del valor de la seva cultura.” Butlletí Oficial Del
Parlament de Catalunya, 240.
234 ‘Roma’ migration in the EU
Building on a specific diagnostic study of this population,
the second edition
explicitly targets them as transversal beneficiaries of the whole plan, as well as
through nine specific measures.
The Catalan Plan anticipated many of the features of the 2011 National
Roma Integration Strategy in Spain and among these the incorporation of ‘new’
Roma in the policy framework for ‘old’ Roma. The strategy asserts that Gitanos
share common features with other Roma groups in Europe and therefore
requires the Spanish authorities to pay special attention to “Roma population
originating from other countries”, to include them in the measures and actions
aimed at Gitanos and, where circumstances allow it, to develop specific
measures and actions aimed at promoting their social inclusion (MSSSI 2012a).
The progressive incorporation of Roma immigrants in the Spanish policies
for Gitanos has been influenced by financial, ideological, and political elements.
In other words, while the progressive categorization of ‘the Roma’ as a
transnational population fostered the ‘trickle down’ adoption of the EU official
discourse on Roma people as both “victims of racism, discrimination and social
exclusion” (Fundamental Rights Agency and UNPD 2012) and “truly
European minority”,
the distribution of EU funding for Roma inclusion
together with the need to give a policy response to the freedom of movement
of impoverished Romanian and Bulgarian Roma citizens resulted in a puzzle of
measures of both inclusion and securitization of the ‘new’ Roma.
Practical problems of targeting ‘Roma’ from other Member States
Unlike other European countries, Spain has not yet experienced the
complete out-sourcing of the governance of Roma migration to third sector
There has been some politicization of the issue of Roma
migration, but to a lesser degree than in countries such as Italy and France, and
the presence of highly visible shantytowns inhabited by Roma immigrants is
also comparatively limited (Beluschi Fabeni et al. 2013; Vlase and Preotesa
2012: 76). These elements have prevented (at least until now) the development
of specific instruments. Consequently, in spite of the strategy’s suggestion to
develop specific measures, municipal social services are carrying out most of
Vincle. 2006. “Gitanos Procedents de l’Europa de l'Est a Catalunya”. Barcelona: Generalitat de
Catalunya. Departament de Benestar i Família.
See the Parliamentary Assembly of the 1993 CoE “Recommendation 1203 on Gypsies in
Europe”: “(1) One of the aims of the Council of Europe is to promote the emergence of a
genuine European cultural identity. Europe harbours many different cultures, all of them,
including the many minority cultures, enriching and contributing to the cultural diversity of
Europe. (2) A special place among the minorities is reserved for Gypsies. Living scattered all over
Europe, not having a country to call their own, they are a true European minority, but one that
does not fit into the definitions of national or linguistic minorities. (3) As a non-territorial
minority, Gypsies greatly contribute to the cultural diversity of Europe. In different parts of
Europe they contribute in different ways, be it by language and music or by their trades and
However, ongoing research highlights that an important process of externalization of social
services dealing with migrants Roma is currently taking place in Catalonia (see Vrăbiescu 2015).
Magazzini and Piemontese 235
Copyright @ 2016 MIGRATION LETTERS © Transnational Press London
the social intervention with Roma migrants, addressing their needs in the same
way they do with other European citizens sharing the same socio-economic
conditions, and away from the spotlight of the ‘Roma issue’.
In certain cases NGOs started implementing specific programs addressed
exclusively at Roma migrants, but it is difficult to assess whether the causes
have to do with a decreased outreach capacity of social services (due to budget
cuts and administrative restrictions to EU2 citizens) or to increased EU funding
for Roma-related projects. Still, some elements that in our view may have an
impact on future trends can be highlighted.
Despite the expectations that may arise from the discourse on the so-called
‘Spanish model’ for the inclusion of Gitanos/Roma – which is generally, albeit
somewhat superficially, regarded as a ‘good practice’ (Bereményi, Piemontese,
and Mirga 2012) the policy documents that clearly address these groups at the
regional and local levels are very limited.
However, when specific measures
do exist, Roma targeted policies need Gitano and pro-Gitano organizations to
be implemented. In fact, since the ethnic belonging of the beneficiaries of
Gitano/Roma-specific policies cannot be certified by any public authority,
Gitano and pro-Gitano third sector organizations are made responsible in the
last resort of verifying ‘who is Gitano’: “In this way, the state can both ensure
its fundamentally redistributive orientation and take compensatory measures of
ethnic recognition, but also avoid the troublesome, essentialist, and ever-
dangerous task of establishing objective criteria for ethnic identification”
(Beluschi Fabeni, López López, and Piemontese 2014: 94).
The difficulties related to the implementation of ethnic policies in the
Spanish color-blind State have been mainly resolved by outsourcing their
implementation to third sector organizations or by relying on a geographical
focus aimed at intervening in areas identified as pockets of poverty and
marginalization, where it is commonly know that impoverished Gitanos live.
This constellation becomes challenging when it comes to Roma immigrants:
they cannot rely on a network of ethnic-driven associations and are not
geographically concentrated in well-defined segregated neighborhoods, as
impoverished Gitanos are. In other words, beyond a scarce mobilization
We are aware that a similar statement could be made also with respect to Gitanos, because the
improvement of their living conditions stemmed from the democratization of mainstream
welfare system rather than from Gitano-specific policies (Gamella 2011). However, we cannot
underestimate the impact (whether factual or symbolical) of a well-established and widespread
system of call for grants for the implementation of Gitano-specific programs.
According to a recent survey run in Andalucía, the Autonomous Community with the highest
Gitano population, only 16% of the policy documents that regulate the housing conditions of
the Gitano population targets exclusively this population, 26% if we also consider those
documents that mention the Gitano population in addition to other beneficiaries (Beluschi
Fabeni, López López, and Piemontese 2014: 84).
This is because Spain, as most Western European countries with the exception of the U.K.,
does not allow data collection based on ethnicity. See Simon’s (2007: 36) report on the ‘Ethnic’
statistics and the data protection in the countries of the Council of Europe.
236 ‘Roma’ migration in the EU
potential, they have neither the resources nor the numbers to assert themselves
as legitimate recipients of Gitano/Roma-specific policies.
immigrant Roma families are generally not recipients of targeted policies,
although many of them would qualify both as members of the Roma pan-
European minority, and as members of a socio-economically disadvantaged
population. They may be perceived as gitanos rumanos by neighbors, but their
ascribed ethnic identity blurs in the super-diverse landscape of the Spanish
suburbs. Eventually, when in need, they might attempt to access universal
welfare services as other low-income individuals do.
An exception to this general rule takes place in instances in which Roma
immigrants happen to be hyper-visible, such in shantytowns, or in cases of
conflicts with other neighbors. Building on current ethnographic research, as
well as on the existing literature on Roma securitization (van Baar 2011, 2015;
Clough Marinaro and Sigona 2011; McGarry 2014; Sarcinelli 2015; Sigona 2008;
Vermeersch 2012; Vrăbiescu 2015), our hypothesis is that Roma immigrants
become target of specific measures of both inclusion and surveillance only
when other social actors problematize their presence. For instance, looking at
the incorporation of ‘Eastern European Roma’ in the Catalan Plan of the
Gitano People in Catalonia, Bereményi and Mirga (2012: 133) demonstrates
that “[…] if the integration of immigrant Roma families is not perceived by
neighbors or public administrations as a threat to public order, they are served
and attended in terms of ‘non-Spanish-nationality’ EU citizens.”
‘New’ Roma or ‘other’ Roma?
In 2009 the Fundamental Rights Agency, looking at the Comprehensive
Plan for the Roma Population in Catalonia, argued that “where broad social
integration measures for national Roma are implemented, Roma from other
Member States are likely to benefit” (FRA 2009b: 9).
A number of studies, workshops and reflections around these broad themes
have been carried out in Spain the last few years, and we try to summarize here
the issues that we consider to be at the core of these debates.
Firstly, there seems to be a general consensus that the policies and programs
developed for Spanish Gitanos are not applicable to Roma migrants, and that
different measures need to be adopted: Roma immigrants are perceived to be
‘at a previous stage’ if compared to local Gitano communities in what concerns
both their socio-economic situation and their level of group organization.
Exploratory interviews realized in the framework of the EU/LLP REdHNET project (Romani
People, educational and housing policies: key links to share) with the recipient organizations of the 2012
and 2013 grants for the implementations of initiatives in the framework of the Comprehensive
Plan for the Andalusian Gitano Community (PICGA) show that the financed projects targeted
Roma migrants only “as individuals” and “by chance”.
During the workshop for scholars, policy makers and the third sector “Bridging the Gap
between Policy Making and Social Research. Strengths and challenges of the policies for
Gitanos/Roma in Spain” (Barcelona, October 2014), one of the participants stated that Roma
immigrants “have very basic needs that turns their a priori incorporation in the policies for
Magazzini and Piemontese 237
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Secondly, they are often blamed for reinforcing the overlap of the cultural and
ethnic identity of ‘the Roma’ with situations of social-economic
marginalization. What emerges is an unfortunate picture of a disadvantaged and
complex population with which general policies do not work.
Already one decade ago Bustamante (2005) anticipated these discourses,
denouncing that neither the social services nor the Gitano associations would
have been able to give adequate answers to the situation of Roma migrants.
Nowadays, the discourse and practice of most practitioners indeed suggest that
the situation of Roma immigrants should be addressed by more specific
measures, separated from those addressed to Spanish Gitanos.
The considerations put forward by these practitioners aim at emphasizing
the distance between Spanish Gitanos and impoverished Roma newcomers.
However, in the making of this ethnic boundary, the description of immigrant
Roma resort to the same misconceptions about Gitanos themselves: that of a
group made of “deficient”, “saturated”, and “gregarious” subjects always “in
need of protection” (Beluschi Fabeni et al. 2014). This has much to do with the
fear of a more powerful overlap between Roma identity and socio-economic
marginalization: having worked for decades toward empowering and
promoting the image of Spanish Gitanos in their own country, Gitano
organizations now fear that the hostility towards Eastern European Roma will
fall upon them. As other authors have shown, both in Spain (Bereményi and
Carrasco 2014; Laparra and Macías León 2009) and elsewhere (Roman 2014)
similarities between ‘old’ and ‘new’ Roma tend to create major differentiation
markers rather than foster empathy or inter-ethnic solidarity. It seems fair to
expect that the presence of Roma immigrants is dreaded by ‘old’ Roma because
it might harm the reputation of the whole ethnic community by reinforcing the
stereotyped descriptions of Gitanos as people que estafa u obra con engaño
In order to analyze Spain as a paradigmatic case of changes and challenges
in its management of inclusion policies as a consequence of westward Roma
migration, we started off by giving an account of the European and
supranational context on the Roma minorities, and then focused on how this
European dimension influences and is intertwined with pre-existing policy
frames and practices in the Spanish case.
In doing so, we tried to give an account of how such ‘inclusion’ or
‘integration’ policies have created a number of by-issues ranging from the need
Gitanos into a non-sense”. The proceedings of the workshop is available at:
The literal translation is “that swindle or behave deceitfully”, and is (still) one of the definitions
of “Gitano” given by the Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy. See the Real Academia
Española, definition number 4, available at:
search?id=VfuMZQr7JDXX2Bi35now. See also the article "Les Gitans d'Espagne: une catégorie
sui generis?" by Nathalie Manrique (2015: 70).
238 ‘Roma’ migration in the EU
to fit the Roma into general matters of cultural diversity management, to the
question of how Roma’s social identification relates to marginalization, social
exclusion and inequality, and to structural, accepted and normalized anti-
gypsysm narratives and practices in Western liberal European countries.
Some underlying questions that remain open for further research are: How
do public action towards immigrant Roma people relate to the Estrategia
Nacional para la Inclusión Social de la Población Gitana? In order to establish a
connection, should we take into consideration the source of funding, the
adjustments to objectives of the Estrategia, or simply the fact that these
initiatives are explicitly targeted to Roma migrants?
From this general overview, a few conclusions can be drawn. First, the ways
in which specific policies for Roma immigrants are drafted and implemented,
as well as the media and political narratives that surround them, tend to
reinforce the overlap between ethnic belonging and socio-economic exclusion.
This overlap, which is nourished by the same overarching architecture of the
EU Policies on Roma, conflates in one artificial construct: the abstract ‘Roma’
umbrella term. While some anti-discrimination or cultural claims could unite
‘old’ and ‘new’ Roma, when it comes to regional and local policy making, class
difference and socio-economic competition prevail at the expenses of the intra-
ethnic solidarity.
Also, and possibly more importantly, the ‘explicit but non-exclusive’
approach is a nice formula, but it seems difficult to adapt to the situation of
Roma immigrants in Spain: explicit measures developed in shantytowns
inhabited by immigrant Roma are very likely to be exclusive, while non-
exclusive measures take mainly the shape of access to general welfare services
in poor districts. One may conclude that this principle is more likely to work in
well-defined areas, such as segregated districts inhabited (also) by impoverished
‘old’ Roma. As long as the policies for Gitanos/Roma do not turn into
Gitano/Roma-specific measures framed in broader mainstream policies, they
will hardly address structural inequalities, but rather reproduce segregation.
The research leading to these results has received funding from the
European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under
grant agreement n° 316796.
Tribute must also be paid to “Evaluating the Six Years of the
Comprehensive Plan for the Roma Population in Catalonia”, a project funded
by the Open Society Foundations’ Roma Initiatives (EU Framework Advocacy
Grant); to the EU/LLP REdHNET project “Romani People, and Educational
and Housing Policies: Key Links to Share” and to the event “Bridging the Gap
between Policy Making and Social Research. Strengths and challenges of the
policies for Gitanos/Roma in Spain. A workshop for scholars, policy makers,
Magazzini and Piemontese 239
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... Five of the studies analyzed dealt with aspects of the community (Bereményi, 2023;Clavé-Mercier & Olivera, 2016;Cousin et al., 2021;Gamella, 2007;Legros & Vitale, 2011). Three texts focused on identity (Grill, 2018;Vrăbiescu, 2017;Viruela, 2004), and six on mobility (Anghel & Fosztó, 2022;Dimitrova, 2013;Magazzini & Piemontese, 2016;Marcu, 2013;Sigona, 2011;van Baar, 2021). ...
... Finally, six studies examined aspects of mobility (Anghel & Fosztó, 2022;Dimitrova, 2013;Magazzini & Piemontese, 2016;Marcu, 2013;Sigona, 2011;van Baar, 2021). Three key issues emerge in these texts when considering the plight of Roma throughout Europe. ...
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This paper is a systematic review of studies on the situation of Eastern European Roma. It examines themes of community, identity, and mobility published in the literature between 2002 and 2022 in the social science, law, and education fields. Studies were identified methodically by searching multidisciplinary electronic databases and hand searching. The studies found were imported into Mendeley, and titles and abstracts were screened according to inclusion and exclusion criteria. A list of search terms with SKOS descriptors (thesaurus) was generated to cover the relevant topics. A data extraction table was drawn up with a set of fields for each of the studies. Items included bibliographic information, study type, study characteristics, participant characteristics, variables, main findings, and limitations. The database searches yielded a total of 6577 records. After an individual hand-search review of the texts, a total of 14 studies were considered and included. We concluded that very little research has been done on the central themes of the study. In addition, there are no texts that look in depth at the issue of education as a tool for poverty reduction.
... Despite recent policies aimed at dismantling existing camps, Roma migrants still face confinement and lack access to fundamental rights (Daniele et al., 2018). Moreover, even in countries where official Roma camps do not exist, like Spain (Magazzini & Piemontese, 2016) and Sweden (Hansson & Mitchell, 2018), Roma migrants are still targeted by heightened state control and experience spatial confinement and sub-standard living conditions. ...
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Roma people in Europe still suffer from severe housing deprivation compared to the general population. Nevertheless, reducing Roma housing to loss and exclusion risks concealing the strategic and creative dimension of residential micro-practices enacted by Roma themselves, who instead mobilise various resources at national and transnational levels. Moving from these premises, this chapter captures the complexity of the literature on Roma housing by focusing on three main issues. First, it engages with critical scholarship deconstructing stereotyped understandings which commonly shape policy approaches and public opinion on Roma populations and mobility. Secondly, it focuses on the different forms of housing segregation in Europe, with specific attention to the spatial device of the camp. Then, it turns to actor-centred perspectives, thoroughly discussing the transnational residential strategies and homemaking practices enacted by Roma migrants. In conclusion, the chapter reflects on emerging avenues of academic and activist research foregrounding intersectionality through feminist perspectives and the nexus with housing rights movements.
... The phenomenon of segregation of Roma communities is a frequent problem in various countries (see e.g. Lancione, 2019;Magazzini & Piemontese, 2016;Rosa, 2016). According to Maestri (2019), segregation is not only produced by the intertwinement of globalisation, changes in the labour market and neoliberal policies that lead to a disinvestment in social policies for most marginalised categories, it is also shaped by the role of civil society actors, increasingly so in times of crisis and welfare restructuring. ...
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Spatial isolation and social exclusion of some of the Roma communities have been a long-term issue in specific Slovakia regions. Along with some other factors, these may contribute to poor access to labour markets for Roma residents of such communities. As public transport acts as an important means of mobility of socially excluded residents, we consider the quality and accessibility of the public transport network as an important element that can impact on the spatially isolated Roma’s ability to reach labour markets, as well as services, education, etc. Based on our empirical evidence, this paper aims to provide a better understanding and analysis of the social exclusion of segregated Roma neighbourhoods in the context of spatial exclusion and transport disadvantage related to public transportation accessibility. We tried to focus on physical accessibility of public transport points for the communities, as well as on the quality and frequency of public transport services available at these points for residents of Roma communities. Our research covered three different regions of Eastern Slovakia, where the concentration of Roma communities is high compared to the rest of the country.
... Hence, the residential segregation of the Roma may be considered partially rooted in their tradition, which makes it unclear whether desegregation policies should be implemented. Magazzini and Piemontese (2016) concluded that there is no shared consensus on whether the integration of Roma should concern their cultural recognition, socio-economic redistribution, ethnicity, or lifestyle. ...
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The isolation of Romani people is rooted both in discrimination by non-Roma and in Romani informal institutions known as romaniya. Residential desegregation is a sectoral objective in the European Union public policies for Roma. The current study is based on the EU-MIDIS II study of 20,375 Romani adults from south-western and south-eastern Europe. A logistic regression with fractional polynomial transformation is used to model hypothesised relationships between education and residential segregation on the one hand and economic outcomes and discrimination on the other among segregated and non-segregated Roma. The analysis demonstrates that among Roma, more years of education were related to a higher likelihood of adult employment, living above the at-risk-of-poverty threshold, and the ability of households to make ends meet irrespective of the ethnic composition of the neighbourhood. In densely populated areas residential segregation was not significantly associated with the economic performance of the Roma. Education and residential segregation were not significant predictors of self-perceived discrimination.
... Although in many countries the situation of this group has improved, the gap between Roma and non-Roma populations still exists: Roma are systematically disadvantaged in housing, employment, education, health care, and life expectancy (Bojadjijeva, 2015); they are also the target of negative stereotypes and emotions across countries (Kende et al., 2020). This is also the situation in Spain, where Roma is the main derogated group above other ethnocultural minority groups, such as immigrants (e.g., ; for a socio-political contextualization in Spain see Magazzini & Piemontese, 2016). This paper will examine to what extent prejudice and discrimination toward Roma in Spain are based on ethnic, social class categories or on an interaction between these variables (see Moore-Berg & Karpinski, 2019;Weeks & Lupfer, 2004 for related research questions about other minorities). ...
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One of the difficulties in social research has been to disentangle the effects of race/ethnicity from social class. In two experimental studies with samples of both students and general population (total N = 416), we analyzed the effect of social class, ethnicity and their interaction on prejudice and discrimination using experimental methods. Social class (High vs. Low) and ethnic group (Roma vs. Non-Roma) were manipulated through a cover story. Study 1 showed a main effect of social class, not of ethnicity, on prejudice and discrimination. In Study 2 the effect of social class was replicated, and the interaction effect was also significant for all dependent variables. Results show that negative effects of social class are higher among Roma than non-Roma. Pooled analyses corroborated these findings. Social class is a predictive factor, especially in interaction with ethnicity, and should be considered for predicting and reducing prejudiced attitudes and intergroup behaviors fostering inequality.
... Thus, it can be highly limited for social minorities, like women, queer people, disabled people, or ethnic minorities such as the Rom*nja in the Balkan countries. Additionally, even after arrival, the two groups cannot be clearly demarcated from each other; a strong example again are Rom*nja (Guglielmo & Waters, 2005;Magazzini & Piemontese, 2016). Third, following their arrival, all migrants become part of "ethnic/racial, religious and linguistic minorities in their new host societies" (Sasse & Thielemann, 2005, p. 659). ...
This article examines the indirect impact of populist radical right parties on the securitisation of asylum policy. The theoretical foundation of the paper draws on classic theories of securitisation, expanding them to the field of (forced) migration and combining them with theories on indirect policy impact. In a two-step analysis, this article firstly investigates changes to asylum law in Austria and Germany from 2015 to 2016, using a policy analysis. The case studies include populist radical right parties with and without parliamentary representation. Thus, the resulting stage model also accounts for gradation of the influencing factor. In the first step of the analysis a securitisation of the policy field is revealed in both cases; however, it appears to a stronger degree in Austria. The results are then related to the strength of the populist radical right parties, operationalised as poll ratings, and to election dates to capture the behaviour of government parties under growing electoral competition. In Austria, the securitisation of asylum law could be attributed to the increasing strength of FPÖ, while the results for Germany are ambiguous. Accordingly, the results suggest that securitisation of asylum policy is more likely when populist radical right parties experience strong support from the electorate.
... 51. Other examples of intergroup competition include the competition between German immigrants and African Americans in the mid-to late 19th century United states, between the different minorities in Belgium, between "old" and "new" Romas in Spain, and political competition between ethnic groups in African countries... See Strickland (2008), Teney et al. (2010), Magazzini and Piemontese (2016) and Eifert, Miguel and Posner (2010). stands against it), can similarly be proxied by the division of a minority into two minorities, which sizes add up to the initial minority's size (i.e. ...
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This dissertation consists in three essays with complementary approaches on the economics of social integration in an urban setting. The first essay analyzes the emergence of ethno-cultural hierarchies in a multi-cultural context, typical of nowadays large metropolises. This emergence is studied using an evolutionary game theory model according to which, in a society, a common hierarchy view emerges from a multitude of independent interactions between members of the different ethno-cultural groups. The originality of the model lies in the featuring of several minorities and hierarchical views (i.e. multi-group and multi-strategy model) and in the reciprocal effects that minorities may have on each others' social statuses. These effects allow to explain the non-linear relationship between a minority's size and its status suggested by the empirical literature, as well as the complex impacts of a new minority's arrival on the other minorities. The evolutionary process implies that the adopted ethno-cultural hierarchy is, in most cases, too inegalitarian and thus economically inefficient. The second essay presents an urban economics model adapted to the sub-Saharan African city context where land ownership is often informal and uncertain and where land transactions are often hampered by important information asymmetries between buyers and sellers. The model allows to theoretically study the impact of two institutions aimed at reducing transaction uncertainty. The first one consists in a formal land registration system administered by the government, the second is a traditional social trust norm that links specific social groups. This model is, to the best of our knowledge, the first one to study the effects of a social norm on the functioning of an urban housing market and the urban structure. It shows that the land registration system is more efficient than the traditional trust norm if registration costs are limited, but also that the two institutions are partly substitutable. The model predicts that, with the gradual decrease of registration costs, land registration will progressively replace social trust norms in the future.Eventually, the third essay consists in an econometric analysis of a large urban renewal program launched in France in 2003 for the renovation of 600 deprived neighborhoods (i.e. the « Programme National de Rénovation Urbaine », PNRU). In order to avoid possible biases linked with heterogeneities in the program's effects across neighborhoods and across time periods, we rely on the very novel DID_M estimator developed by De Chaisemartin and D'Haultfoeuille (forthcoming) and complement its results with a more traditional difference-in-differences estimation. Our results suggest that the program had non-significant and, in any case, very limited effects (i.e. smaller than 3.5%) on housing prices in renovated neighborhoods. The program's effects on transaction volumes are also non-significant. However, the program led to a sizable upward evolution in the socio-professional status of housing buyers as compared to sellers, suggesting some improvement in the attractivity of renovated neighborhoods.
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In the last decade, there have been an increasing number of political and academic debates on Roma in Europe. Spain has been praised for its exemplary treatment of its Roma population to the point where it has become a model for the European Commission and other European Union countries. As a matter of fact, in 2011 the European Commission adopted an EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies focusing on four key areas: education, employment, healthcare, and housing. These were very similar to the comprehensive ‘Gitano plans’ that were run for several years by some Autonomous Communities in Spain. However, civil society stakeholders and academic researchers have pointed out the lack of monitoring and evaluation mechanisms in the aforementioned plans (Laparra et al., 2014). Despite recent studies having gathered empirical evidence of the policies’ concrete effects and best practices for the inclusion of the Gitano minority in Spain, a real discussion between Romani studies researchers and policymakers has yet to be initiated (Piamontese, 2014).
This article aims to show that Roma people in Spain are targeted for discrimination because of perceptions about their religious beliefs, as well as for reasons linked to their socio-economic status. Data on the Spanish Roma population have been, used and analysis reveals that Evangelical Roma people have a higher probability of perceiving discrimination than those Roma who profess the majority religion in Spain, that is, Catholicism, once other socio-economic and demographic factors are controlled for. We recommend that this manifested higher degree of discrimination towards Evangelical Roma should be addressed by Spanish institutions and organizations promoting the rights of ethnic minorities by considering intersectional discrimination which allows for a more respectful and egalitarian approach to the diversity of Roma people. Additionally, Evangelical churches should be considered as active actors in an inter-culture dialogue.
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RESUMEN La emigración constituyó una de las principales estrategias de supervivencia adoptada por los gitanos de Rumanía después de la caída del régimen comunista en 1989. Muchos gitanos emi-graron entonces hacia países como Alemania o Austria. En los últimos años, España se ha con-vertido en uno de los principales países de destino. Habría que tener en cuenta que este flujo constituye sólo una parte, importante, aunque difícil de determinar, del volumen de nacionales rumanos que se encuentra en el estado español. La población gitana de Rumanía ha emigrado principalmente por razones económicas, aunque también ha estado presente la discriminación sufrida en el origen en su migración. En España, un porcentaje considerable de estas personas realizan trabajos marginales, pero también desarrollan actividades en sectores más normaliza-dos, como la agricultura o la construcción. Por último, creemos que actualmente las condicio-nes en los lugares de destino de España no favorecen el asentamiento definitivo, aunque tam-poco creemos que vuelvan a sus lugares de origen.
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The aim of this evaluation research is to assess the first six years of the “Comprehensive Plan for the Roma People in Catalonia” (hereafter PIPG according to its initials in Catalan), focused on its planning, implementation and outcomes. For the evaluation, we have collected both qualitative and quantitative data through a mixed methodology by applying different research techniques, such as interviews (66), reconstructed participant observations (2), questionnaires (227), focal groups (4 groups, 31 individuals), and exploitation of archives and documents. The three empirical aspects of the evaluation centred, firstly, on the PIPG-related processes in the departments of the Catalan Government; secondly, on the evolution of the particular PIPG projects, and, thirdly, on local development of PIPG projects in specific municipalities. The analytical dimensions followed the dimensions of the Ten common basic principles for Roma inclusion, complemented by two additional dimensions: age/generation and nationality/citizenship. As a justification for this project, we must stress a generalised dissatisfaction and an overall ignorance among the Gitano associations regarding the PIPG’s outcomes and impacts, an explicit desire of many Gitano individuals to better understand the functioning of the Gitano-targeted public policies, and an overt will of Gitano associations to cooperate with non-Gitano experts in order to lead the evaluation of this public policy based on the principle of parity. In the following, our aim is to express some characteristic points of the evaluated Comprehensive Plan for the Gitano People in Catalonia, and to review the most relevant findings of our evaluation project.
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This article focuses on the patterns of access to housing among Romanian Roma in the city of Granada between 2001 and 2011. It analyses how these patterns result from the interaction between the strategies and the needs of each family network, and the ways in which public authorities manage those benefits that, at leastideally, aim to ensure the right to housing. The main conclusion is that welfare and housing-relatedprojects are more effective when they move from a deep knowledge of the socio-cultural characteristics of their beneficiaries, as well as when they consider their housing patterns as expressions of social needs.
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European countries as well as the European Union are continually striving for comparable and reliable statistics about Roma, which is a precondition to efficiently support the design and implementation of national and European Union wide inclusion strategies and sectorial policies as well as monitoring their outcomes. This article aims to provide an overview of the theoretical and practical challenges researchers need to face in the course of designing and conducting survey among ‘Roma’ populations. A number of factors – such as dilemmas about the definition of the target population, methodology of sampling of a population with multiple and threatened identity, difficulties of constructing comparable indicators – have led to greatly diverging outcomes of various ‘Roma’ surveys in terms of the most essential statistics, such as the size of the population, geographical dispersion, level of poverty, level of education and employment rate. This article will summarize the various methodological decisions that research has to make by providing illustrative examples of recent research in Hungary, Romania and the European Union. It attempts to demonstrate the actual consequences of methodological decisions in terms of the varying outcomes of a crucial indicator – employment rate – produced by six independent surveys. The article’s conclusions are further reaching: data on Roma minorities are a requirement for evidence-based, efficient policy making targeted at social inclusion of Roma in Europe, and therefore understanding methodological dilemmas in the collection of this data is essential.
After over five centuries, the presence of the Gitanos (Spanish Gypsies) in Spain1 can only be explained by their extraordinary capacity for survival, both in a physical sense (overcoming persecution and a precarious livelihood), and in an ethnic sense (maintaining their identity). What is most surprising is how little is known about them. A generalized lack of interest by the majority society in conjunction with a defensive strategy practiced by Gitanos themselves, as well as an often misplaced commitment to discretion by public administrations may help to explain this lack of knowledge.2
The disappointing results of over two decades of activism in the supposedly more liberal climate of post- Communist democracies prompted three renowned experts to exchange views, sometimes conflicting, about the situation of Roma in Eastern Europe. Their forthright statements stimulated other stakeholders at a workshop, and the distilled text of this discussion constitutes the fourth chapter of the book. While the book offers no easy solutions, the pre-eminence of its contributors and the lively arguments they provoked guarantee that it will be a touchstone for future debate as pro-Roma policies come under threat in Europe’s time of crisis. © Kossuth Publishing Corporation, Pakiv European Roma Fund and András Bíró, Nicolae Gheorghe, Martin Kovats, Željko Jovanović 2013.
From 2007 to 2008, the presence of migrant-beggars from Eastern European countries in Finland has brought about much discussion regarding the status of this group in what is perceived as a model welfare state. The beggars, identified mainly Roma from Romanian and Bulgaria, were not easily fitting within the ideals of work culture within a Nordic welfare society. Moreover, no clear demarcation was made between the groups of migrant Roma and the national, Finnish Roma community. This paper focuses on the views of some of the Finnish Roma ‘elite’ regarding the presence of Roma beggars in the Helsinki area, dealing with the interactions between national and migrant Roma in the city of Helsinki as a consequence of Eastern European Roma migration to this area and bringing into question the limitations of an ethnic approach to Roma migration. The focus is on analysing the contradictions and ambiguities in what could easily (yet problematically) be understood as ‘intra-ethnic’ relations.