Lately many European Union (EU) Member States experience high tensions with their Roma population. On July 28th 2010, French President Nicolas Sarkozy launched a new anti-crime initiative targeting the ‘itinerant population’ with a particular emphasis on the Roma community.
This decision caused much controversy within the Institutions of the European Union. On August 19th, the French government decided to begin to expel Roma , mainly from Romania and Bulgaria, as they were living illegally in the country. Foreign born Roma are often seen begging on the streets of French cities and many French people consider them a nuisance. The Roma issue gained importance for the European Union (EU) due to the accession of new Eastern European countries with large Roma populations. When Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, it was determined that their citizens will enjoy full freedom of movement within the EU as of January 2014. The French government therefore, stated that the measures are in line with EU rules. 
The Roma make up the largest ethnic minority in the EU. They trace their origins to medieval India and settled in Europe as early as the 13th century. Historically, the Roma have been oppressed, enslaved, persecuted, expelled and even subjected to ethnic cleansing during the Kosovo conflict in 1999. 
As time progressed, the body of evidence documenting discrimination against the Roma accumulated in both applicants before the Court and in monitoring reports by the Council of Europe and the NGO community. It was not until 2008, that the Court ruled an incident of police brutality against a Roma victim racially motivated and breached article 14 of the ECHR in Stoica versus Romania.  Unfortunately, this decision did not lead to much improvement regarding the position of Roma in Europe. In July 2008, the Italian government began to fingerprint Roma adults as well as children as a government attempt to fight street crime. The Italian government stated that only Roma lacking valid identification papers would be fingerprinted and claimed the measure was designed to help Roma children who are often seen begging on the streets.  The European Parliament responded by adopting a resolution urging Italian authorities ‘ to refrain from collecting fingerprints from Roma, including minors as this would clearly constitute an act of direct discrimination based on race and ethnic origin.  Upon reviewing this policy, the European Commission, found that there was no evidence of intentional discrimination or of seeking data based on ethnic origin. Subsequently, the European Commission reversed the admonition by the European Parliament and approved the measure of the Italian government. 
The European Council has required that new prospective members ratify certain non- discrimination protocols such as the European Council Framework Convention on national minorities as a precondition to granting EU membership. However, not all of the old EU members have ratified the instrument. Noteworthy is that France is not a signatory to this Convention.
As the Roma rights movement looks to the future, it is clear that legal instruments by themselves will not suffice in resolving the Roma problem. The challenge lies in finding arguments that can compel reforms outside of European courtrooms in parliaments, local governments and other centers of political power capable of translating judicial decisions into changes on the ground.
 The struggle for Human Rights by J. Goldston in Human Rights Quarterly, 2010 Vol 32 (2)p.320/321
 The struggle for Human Rights by J. Goldston in Human Rightst Quarterly, 2010, Vol 32 (2)
Roma Integration in Europe: why minority rights are failing, by I. Uzunova, Arizona Journal of International & Comparative law, Vol 27, No 1, 2010, p.283
Resolution on the Census of the Roma on the basis of Ethnicity in Italy, Parl. EUR.DOC. (B6-0348) (2008), available at http:// http://www.europarl.europa.eu/
 Roma Integration in Europe: why minority rights are failing, by I. Uzunova, Arizona Journal of International & Comparative law, Vol 27, No 1, 2010, p.316
 Report by Mr Álvaro Gil-Robles, Commissioner for Human Rights On The Effective Respect Of Human Rights in France, 15th of February 2006, p. 86-89.
 The struggle for Human Rights by J. Goldston in Human Rights Quarterly, 2010 Vol 32 (2) p.311
A selection of relevant publications from the Peace Palace Library collection
Droit, culture et minorite by A. de Raulin Paris: Harmattan 2009
Minority rights protection in international law: the Roma of Europe by H. O' Nions.Aldershot: Ashgate 2007 Roms, une question europeenne by F. Sarter
Database Cairn Available in House OnlyLes Roms migrants en région parisienne : les dispositifs d'une marginalisation by Alexandra Nacu in Revue europeenne des migrations internationalesDatabase Cairn Available in House Only