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The Refugee Studies Centre (RSC) at the University of Oxford hosted an international conference on the theme of Romani mobilities in Europe: multidisciplinary perspectives. The conference is part of ‘Mapping Romani mobilities in Europe’, a two-year research project funded by the John Fell Oxford University Press Research Fund. The main aim of the conference was to bring together scholars and students from across a variety of disciplines to discuss the multiple dimensions and impacts of Romani mobilities in Europe. The conference was generously supported by ERSTE Foundation.

The conference took place on 14-15 January 2010 included a keynote talk by Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne MEP, three plenary sessions and a number of panel sessions. Speakers included Thomas Acton, Colin Clark, Yaron Matras, Judith Okely, Peter Vermeersh, Will Guy, Andrzej Mirga, Carol Silverman, Adrian Marsh, Nidhi Trehan, Tommaso Vitale.


In the last two decades large groups of Roma have migrated from Central, Eastern and South East Europe towards the more affluent countries of the European Union. These groups often had no confirmed legal status, no access to formal employment, lived in precarious circumstances and had limited or no access to healthcare. Furthermore, they have often faced xenophobic and discriminatory treatment from the majority population and become the targets of racially-motivated attacks.

However, with the EU enlargement more than two million Roma from Central, Eastern and South East Europe became both citizens of the EU and members of its largest minority making the social rights and security issues surrounding Roma an internal issue for the EU.

With accession, the mobility of Roma from one EU country to another is now difficult to restrict – despite recent attempts in France, Italy, the UK and Belgium to mention a few examples – since that movement is protected by fundamental EU norms. Instead, Roma from other non-EU European countries face even greater obstacles to access EU space through legal routes, both because of the rigidity and selectivity of EU migration policies for non-EU citizens and because of the quasi exclusion of the right to asylum for citizens of countries in the process or aspiring to EU membership, where most of the remaining Roma population is located.

There is also another group of non-EU Roma that should be included in this account: those who entered the EU during the 1990s following the collapse of the Yugoslav Federation and were granted humanitarian protection on a temporary basis, and whose right to stay in the EU is now under scrutiny.