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School of Arts, Languages and Cultures

European policies and local outreach support for Romani immigrants

We have transformed debates about Romani migration and informed European policy.

Our work on Romani migration has highlighted the unique vulnerability of Romani migrants and instigated special consideration of their issues by major European policy-making bodies. Following our recommendations, Manchester City Council adopted an engagement strategy with the city’s Romani community.

Significant Romani migration to Western Europe ignited intense debate in the early 1990s, but little was known about its underlying causes and patterns. Professor Yaron Matras – a rare expert on the topic – was commissioned to advise The Council of Europe’s Population and Migration Division.

Professor Matras composed reports and developed a range of policy recommendations which have been examined and adopted at the highest levels in European institutions.

Romani woman
"Professor Matras composed reports and developed a range of policy recommendations which have been examined and adopted at the highest levels in European institutions."

Key policy input

  • Adoption of first report by the European Committee on Migration and European Committee of Ministers
  • Commission of a second report on Czech and Slovak Roma immigration to the UK
  • Cornerstone for further Council of Europe policy papers including reports from the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Right (2012) and the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (2009)
  • Foundation of European Academic Network on Romani Studies to support robust Roma-related research and steer evidence-based policy

At a local level, Manchester City Council has followed our recommendations on working with the Romani community.

Key benefits in Manchester

  • Young Romani immigrants now act as mediators and interpreters to fellow immigrants
  • Creation of two positions for Romani outreach workers
  • Various agencies and local schools now employ Romani support workers
  • Training programme for young Roma, 10 of whom are now employed in the community

Our research

Professor Matras and his team investigated patterns in and drivers of Romani migration and examined the response of the authorities, media and politicians in Western Europe.

We explored the motivations and aspirations of Romani immigrants in Manchester by surveying two thirds of all houses in a 500-strong Roma community – one of very few attempts to collect first-hand data in Roma communities.

Key findings

  • Roma do not own or identify with the territory on which they live so will readily relocate in the face of hardship
  • Roma migrate in extended family groups to better endure social and economic hardships
  • Roma are prepared to endure stigma and isolation
  • Century-old stereotypes exclude Roma and create a negative cycle of conflict, risk taking and criminal behaviour

Lead academic