The migration of Roma from Southeast Europe into European Union (EU) Member States or of Roma making use of freedom of movement within the EU easily makes headlines all over Europe. Their actual situation, the reasons for their migration and the (illegal) initiatives of some countries to stop this migration are much less likely to make the headlines. On the other hand, irresponsible politicians and media outlets in Western Europe make use of racist attitudes within large parts of the population and present the migration of Roma into or within the EU as a major security issue that can endanger the stability of receiving countries and threaten their social security systems.
Recently the focus of the public has been on Roma from Romania and Bulgaria. Since 1 January 2014, citizens of Romania and Bulgaria can enjoy freedom of movement within the EU. Across all countries in Western Europe an artificial hysteria has been created that large numbers of Roma from these countries would make use of their right of freedom of movement within the EU and would overwhelm countries in Western Europe with requests for social assistance, housing, education, etc. However, the mass influx never happened. A similar hysteria was created with regard to Roma from countries such as Serbia, Macedonia or Bosnia and Herzegovina when they made use of the visa-free regime and applied primarily for asylum in Western European countries. While it is difficult to limit the freedom of movement for EU citizens irrespective of their ethnic origin, stopping nonEU citizens from entering the EU, or at least creating obstacles for their freedom, is easier. Consequently, countries in Southeast Europe, following strong pressure from the EU and individual Member States, had to introduce (illegal) measures to prevent Roma from leaving their home countries and moving to Western Europe.
The ERRC organised a workshop on Roma Migration – Western Balkans and the EU Visa Liberalisation Dialogue in autumn 2013, inviting experts and scholars working on different aspects of the migration of Roma from countries in the Western Balkans. This edition compiles the contributions from that workshop. Two complementary articles examine migration patterns in the Western Balkans. Stoyanka Cherkezova looks at the attitudes, motives and profiles of potential migrants from the Western Balkans, both Roma and non-Roma. Julija Sardelič looks at the role of citizenship and citizenship politics within a similar context. Zoran Bikovski and Tefik Mahmut examine the impact of border policy on Roma who face discriminatory treatment when trying to leave their own country and are even prevented from doing so. Also focusing on the states that emerged from the breakup of Yugoslavia, Maylis de Verneuil examines the issues facing Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in particular Romani migration and the issue of statelessness. While the first group of articles focuses more on the situation in the Western Balkans, others turn their attention to the situation of migrants in target countries for migration.