Since the accession of the A8 post-communist countries to the European Union, various EU institutions have regularly expressed deep concern about the precarious political, social and economic position of the Roma. This article examines the recent political reinterpretations that accompany the EU's framing of the Roma as a group in need of special attention. It argues that EU institutions will have to find ways to deal with the ambivalence inherent in their ‘European’ appeals for tackling the problems at hand. These calls may indeed—as, for example, the European Commission insists—enhance cooperation between different levels of government and persuade member-states to adopt new policies that will benefit Romani citizens. But, somewhat paradoxically, they also provide new discursive material for nationalist politicians with an anti-Romani agenda who try to minimise or evade their countries’ domestic responsibility by highlighting the role and responsibility of the EU. They also latch onto the alleged ‘Europeanness’ of the Roma in order to exclude them symbolically from their own national space and frame them not only as ‘Europeans’ but also as ‘outsiders’ and ‘cultural deviants’.
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