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The formation of the European Union greatly eased travel restrictions within Europe for European citizens. As such, more and more citizens have migrated from Eastern Europe to Western Europe to take advantage of richer countries, and more developed economies. Part of the migration has involved the migration of Roma people, oft persecuted in Eastern Europe for a variety of reasons. Now, the French Interior Minister has called for Roma people to be expelled from France.
The Roma situation
Trying to explain and understand the Roma situation is difficult, to say the least. The term “Roma” refers to a distinctive ethnic group that originated in the Indian sub-continent and slowly migrated to Eastern Europe. Since migrating to Eastern Europe, they have slowly dispersed through the rest of the continent. Now, over a half million are found in France, and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, are found throughout the rest of Europe.
The Roma people still follow a set of Hindu based beliefs, and are known for following their own social code. Roma people tend to lead a relatively nomadic and isolated life. Critics of the Roma believe that the people are simply unwilling to adapt to modern life. Supporters tend to believe that the Roma are not being given a fair chance, and more work should be down to work with them in the framework of their own culture.
Europe’s crisis increase as Roma improves
While conditions for the Roma had largely been improving in recent years, the continued economic recession and budget constraints are placing strains on governments across Europe. Now, some feel that the Roma are becoming a burden that uses up valuable resources. Further, their illegal settlement camps, often consisting of mobile homes and other temporary structures, are becoming targets of raids.
Roma who are expelled from camps or otherwise ensnared in removal operations are often offered flights back to their country of origin. While this might remove the problem from France, however, critics charge that it simply places the burden on someone else’s shoulder.
The Roma people have also come under fire in Hungary, Greece, and elsewhere. The continued economic stagnation in Europe has helped more conservative parties gain power. These parties are often among those most strongly opposed to assisting, or even tolerating Roma. Indeed, in Hungary armed vigilante groups are increasingly targeting Roma citizens. People have reported being attacked with Molotov cocktails and other weapons. On numerous occasions people have been killed or seriously injured.
Crack down on Roma people
Even Canada has begun to crack down on the Roma people. Many Roma citizens tried to move to Canada to claim asylum, but with deficits, budget cuts, and slow economic growth plaguing Canada, many have been sent packing back to Europe. Since most Roma people have E.U. citizenship, however, they can immigrate to Britain and elsewhere. While conditions are better in such countries, governments across Europe are beginning to feel overburdened with the Roma problem.
The on-going situation shows the complexity of dealing with so many different cultures, religions, and nationalities in the massive European Union. Easy immigration has allowed for a transfer of talent and skill, and helped to increase economic efficiency. At the same time, it has brought vastly different cultures into contact with one another, often leading to conflict. And so long as Europe’s economy remains strained, tensions will most likely remain high.