When you bring people to Europe from the Third World, do you change the people or do you change Europe?
This was the question asked by Andrew Brons MEP during a debate on the “Roma” or Gypsies of Europe, held in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) last week.
“The Roma seem to move in and out of fashion in the European Parliament. We have not heard of them for some time. I was beginning to get quite worried,” Mr Brons said.
“I feel that the Roma are depersonalised in many documents and speeches. They are spoken about as a people who can have things done to them: discrimination; deprivation; impoverishment.
“They are also people who must have people done for them – provided with EU money.
“They are never credited with having done things for themselves or to themselves. Indeed they are not credited with having the capability of doing either.
“I don’t know how many MEPs ever meet any Roma. Perhaps they occasionally see a picture of one on a chocolate box. I know two in Britain who have done very well for themselves.
“They do sometimes act very well for themselves, as I have mentioned. However, sometimes, they do things to themselves and to each other that are far from beneficial.
“Two years ago, we had a hearing in this Committee LIBE) about the human trafficking of women and girls and we had a representative from Europol.
“I asked him, rather cautiously, whether any population group was disproportionately represented among the traffickers and among the trafficked.
“His answer was clear and unambiguous. He said that the answer to both questions was the Roma. Roma men were trafficking Roma women and girls for prostitution.
“If you doubt that, when you are next in Strasbourg look at the Roma encampments outside the City to the East and you will see only a little down the road Roma girls standing by the side of the road. The authorities have done absolutely nothing about it.
“It was said earlier that the lives of the Roma were more similar to the lives of people in the Third World than to those of people in Europe.
“Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that they come originally from the Third World.
“There is a more general question. When you bring people to Europe from the Third World, do you change the people or do you change Europe?”