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MIGROM Report Summary

Project ID: 319901
Funded under: FP7-SSH
Country: United Kingdom

Periodic Report Summary 2 - MIGROM (The immigration of Romanian Roma to Western Europe: Causes, effects, and future engagement strategies.)

Project Context and Objectives:
Project website:
Coordinator: The University of Manchester
Project Coordinator: Professor Yaron Matras (;
Project Manager: Charlotte Jones (;
Postdoctoral Researcher: Daniele Viktor Leggio (
Partners: Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (Professor Henriette Asséo); University of Granada (Professor Juan Gamella); University of Verona (Professor Leonardo Piasere); Romanian Institute for Research on National Minorities (Dr László Fosztó); Manchester City Council; European Roma and Traveller Forum

Project context and objectives:
The project investigates the experiences, motivations, and ambitions of Roma migrants from Romania who have recently moved to Italy, France, Spain, and the UK, and the effect of migration on their own lives and on the lives of relations left behind in the home communities in Romania. It also investigates popular, media, and official reactions to Roma immigration. The study aims to add a crucial dimension to the understanding not only of so-called objective push and pull factors that prompt and attract Roma to migrate, but also of the internal social and economic organisation of the migrating community itself and the development of transnational networks that support it. At the same time it examines and analyses social and political reactions to the settlement of Roma migrants at the level of the local community and local residents, local and national media, public services such as schools, police, and social workers, and local and national policy-makers. The study is accompanied by a pilot engagement scheme run in close collaboration with a local authority – Manchester City Council – which is a full partner in the consortium, and by cooperation schemes with a number of other local authorities in the various countries of the partner organisations. The schemes aim to introduce measures for capacity-building within the Roma migrants’ community, provisions for advice and support services and the creation of a consultation forum that will allow Roma migrants to take part in decision-making processes affecting their community. The research aims to assess the degree of success of these measures in offering both Roma and local services an opportunity to support community cohesion. The project’s policy dissemination strategy relies on the input of an umbrella organisation of Roma NGOs – the European Roma and Traveller Forum – also as full partner in the consortium, making this a first and unique model for international research in direct collaboration with Roma representatives.
The project pursues the following objectives:
1) It seeks to carry out a three stage, longitudinal survey among recent Romanian Roma migrants in urban communities in Spain, Italy, France and the UK, and in their origin communities in Romania. The outcome will be an Ethnography of Roma Migration. The survey is based on recorded oral interviews in the Romani language, carried out by a team of researchers who have close familiarity with Roma culture, customs, language, and social organisation forms, and assisted by a number of Roma research assistants and interpreters. The survey seeks to obtain a picture of the reasons and motivations for migration, the role of family and social networks and the socio-economic organisation of life in the migrant community, the social and economic effects of migration on the home communities including the role of women in productive and reproductive activities, the aspirations of various generations in the community, attitudes to neighbours and institutions, values and cultural activities, the reaction to local authority interventions, and reciprocal relations with Roma migrant communities of the same origin in other locations (‘diasporic networks’). The three consecutive stages of the survey – a pilot survey, an extended survey, and a follow-up survey – are designed to capture developments and changes of attitudes and activities in the community during the investigation period.
2) The project also seeks to investigate reactions to Roma migrations, by observing institutions’ engagement strategies with Roma and the decision making process that underlies them, as well as media reports and policy measures taken by local authorities.
3) The project aims to assess policy measures targeting migrant Roma communities, and to make use of the participation of local authorities in the project to draft, test, implement, and assess the impact of a variety of measures of advice and support, capacity building and consultation offered to the Roma migrant community, and in this way to contribute to evidence-based policy drafting and to transparency and accountability of local authority engagement with Roma.
4) Special attention is being devoted to the position of young Roma women in migrant communities, and to the potential of tension between the values and demands of the traditional community and its gender and family roles, and the opportunities and expectations of their new social environment.
5) In the absence of an established Roma scientific community in the fields of social sciences (with the exception of few individuals), the project seeks to pilot the inclusion of Roma in an active role in the research by recruiting, training and engaging individuals from within the Roma migrant communities, thus making a direct contribution to capacity-building.
6) To disseminate project analyses in the form of reports, European policy briefs, academic papers, and media and educational packages through conferences, public events, meetings with policy makers, websites and publications. To use the connections, experience, and present role of the participants as expert consultants to distribute the project's recommendations among policy makers. In this way, to make a lasting contribution toward the shaping of a realistic policy at local, national and EU levels that will be sensitive to the needs and dignity of Roma migrants and their host communities.

Project Results:
The Pilot Survey carried out in the first project year targeted communities of Roma migrants in France (Wissous and Vigneux, Paris region), Italy (Milan and Bari), Spain (Madrid, Malaga, Lucena) and the United Kingdom (Greater Manchester), and their origin communities in Romania (Dolj, Călăraşi, Cluj, Bucharest and Ialomiṭa). Initial results show Roma migration is usually a migration of families rather than of individuals. Motivated in most cases by the wish to escape extreme poverty in Romania, Roma are often prepared to take risks in order to make use of short-term earning opportunities while preserving family structures. These risks include frequent re-location, poor housing conditions (in unauthorised shanty towns, or squatting, or overcrowded houses), irregular school attendance of children, and hostility, including evictions. Risks also include low-prestige and insecure earning opportunities such as begging and recycling. Many families have a history of periodical migrations and re-locations going back to the early 1990s. There is a direct link between the poverty of Roma in Romania, and their economic deprivation immediately after the collapse of the state sector in 1990. The historical dependency on the state sector is in turn an outcome of historical marginalisation that goes back to the period of slavery and serfdom in the nineteenth century, followed by exclusion from land reforms and large-scale deportations to Transnistria during the Second World War. While many Roma migrants report of discrimination and abuse in Romania, there is also fear, in the destination communities, of exclusion and eviction and, in particular, of measures to remove Roma children from their parents and place them in care.
The overall profile of Roma migrant communities is that of a young population, with large families, tight family networks, with a low level of vocational skills. We see many indications of an emerging shift in the community profile: opportunities in the destination communities raise aspirations in the areas of employment, housing, and education, and willingness to engage with local institutions and even with public audiences and media. There is also a noticeable trend toward smaller families and toward prolonging intervals in bearing children. The lifting of employment restrictions in January 2014 was immediately followed by a noticeable surge of interest and success in finding regular employment opportunities. High awareness of health care stands out, and Roma migrants appear to make use of health care opportunities offered in the destination communities.
Participation in school education is directly linked to the removal of obstacles within the admissions procedure, as well as to stability in housing. It is also linked to the families’ life history: children who arrive directly from Romania and who attended Romanian schools tend to adjust quite easily to a new school setting. Children whose school attendance was interrupted repeatedly due to re-locations and evictions tend to experience greater difficulties.
Many migrants maintain close contacts in the origin communities. Through remittances and investments in housing and small businesses they often create new opportunities for relatives in Romania. Through visits and networking they often help raise aspirations of Roma in the origin communities. It therefore appears that migration of some families to the west has the potential to make an important contribution toward transforming the long-term social and economic standing of Roma communities who have stayed behind in the origin communities.
The Extended Survey, carried out in the second project year, has focused largely on aspects of changes to family structure such as age of marriage and birth rate, on the extent to which new employment opportunities have effected the communities, and on the nature of economic support by migrants for the origin communities and their effect in transforming the social and economic status of Roma there. Special attention was also given to patterns of local authority engagement as well as to the impact of migration on the origin communities. The results were released in the form of an Extended Survey report (a cluster of reports each authored by one of the partners), which can be accessed here: The were also releases in the form of a policy brief as well as a European policy brief, accessible here:

Potential Impact:
The project is expected to be able to illustrate that there are some particularities of Roma migration that are connected to the historical status of Roma in the origin countries (social marginalisation, resulting in extreme poverty and exclusion) and in part to Roma social organisation (the reliance on extended family support), but that by and large the special situation of Roma migrants is a product of their perception by others and their depiction in public statements. This implies that the key to social inclusion is the removal of barriers to participation. The project will be able to show the relative weight of internal change compared to external intervention in instigating social transformation within the Roma community and facilitating participation, which implies that the removal of barriers and capacity building should serve as primary goals of policy. The project is also engaged in drafting a typology of local authority engagement with Roma. Attention is being given to the role of public and voluntary sector partnerships and the outsourcing of support services for Roma to independent agencies, and the implications (including risks) for transparency and accountability of local authority interventions. The analysis will underline the importance of drafting policies that are evidence-based, and of maintaining monitoring and quality assurance of policy implementation. The project also aims to deliver a better understanding of the contribution of migration to the long-term positive transformation of the position of Roma communities in the origin regions. We expect to be able to demonstrate that this contribution outstrips that of external support such as that provided by the European Social Funds. This calls for an acknowledgement of the long-term benefits of migration, and a critical assessment of the true value of development aid in the way in which it is currently delivered and channelled.
Overall the project seeks to create a model for a new role that research can play in Roma related policy. The Roma community has long viewed research as intrusive, while governments have tended to view research as an instrument of control and containment. MigRom sets a new standard for research that is actively supportive of positive change and critical reflection, working in partnership with both local government and Roma communities and their representatives.

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