Roma and the Politics of EU Citizenship in France: Everyday Security and Resistance

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GR:EEN Working Paper Series
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This paper reflects on the politics of EU citizenship – and the ethical possibilities and limitations of a cosmopolitan or ‘normative power’ EU – via an analysis of the situation of the Roma in France, which was widely mediatised in summer 2010. It argues in a first step that during this period the French government ‘securitised’ the Roma, ‘extra-ordinarily’ casting them as collective threat and thereby justifying their deportation. The European Commission’s outspoken response demanded that the French authorities refrain from discriminating against EU citizens as ethnic group; in so doing, the EU seemed to act as protector of minorities in accordance with its raison d’être as liberal peace project. However, in a second step, the paper draws attention to the deportations perpetrated before these high-profile events, highlighting that conditionality within the law pertaining to EU citizenship allowed for the securitisation of Roma. Thus, in a third step, it is argued that the invocation of citizenship may be a useful but limited strategy of political resistance by and with excluded groups such as Europe’s Roma. Rather, it is the inherently ambiguous nature of a multi-level EU liberal or cosmopolitan government – and concomitant EU citizenship – which opens an important space for resistance.