The Swedish media is feeding the Swedish public sob stories about the allegedly oppressed Gypsies who have to come to Sweden to beg because they are oppressed and poor in their countries of origin and that somehow that is Romanias fault. The only problem with this narrative is that none of it is true.
For starters, the highest number of European Gypsies lives in Spain and worldwide in the United States. The European country with the highest proportion of Gypsies is Bulgaria where almost 5% of the population is Gypsy followed by Romania (3.5%) and Macedonia (3%).
Gypsies started coming to Sweden in big numbers even before Romania and Bulgaria became members of the European Union, mainly as refugees from present-day Bosnia and Serbia during the Balkan Wars in late 1990s.
The Gypsy minority has been well documented in Southern Europe (from Spain to Greece and from Hungary to Italy) for at least 150 years, so for the Swedish media to blame Gypsy issues on Romania is disingenuous to say the least.
So what happened that suddenly drove Gypsies to make headlines? The European Union happened.
Before the creation of the European Union, Sweden could vet people (including Gypsies) coming in and the nations they were leaving from (such as Romania or Serbia) could prevent those with criminal records from getting a passport. All of that has gone since the European Union and the ideology of political correctness took hold in most of Europe.
But as the Swedish media seems to think that Romania is not doing enough, let us take a closer look at how things used to be before the EU and how theyve gotten worse after the EU took over.
Before joining the EU, most repeat offenders would be denied a Romanian passport for a period of time, a measure applied especially to those convicted of crimes committed abroad. That law was abolished by Brussels during the accession period because it was disproportionately affecting Gypsies and by the politically correct standards that constituted racism.
One of the now politically incorrect truths is that certain parts of Gypsy culture and customs are totally incompatible with a civilized society. One of these customs is child marriage.
Before 2007, acknowledging and addressing this fact was common practice in Romania. Patrols formed by the General Directorate of Child Protection in conjunction with the Police were routinely controlling Gypsy areas to save the children trapped in such marriages. The 2002 census mentions exactly 14 cases of married minors under the age of 15. That number never exceeded 15 per year between 1992 and 2007 and was as low as 3 in 2006. After 2007, Brussels forced Romania to abolish the practice of routinely controlling Gypsy neighborhoods because that constituted racial profiling according to the EU overlords.
The results were disastrous. In 2013, there were 702 de facto married minors and the number has never gone below 600 between 2008 and the present day. In other words, the EU measures led to an over 4000% (four thousand percent) increase in child marriage in Romania. Now the authorities are outright banned from forming taskforces to tackle the phenomenon because if they do, they are liable to a European lawsuit from the NGOs working for Gypsy rights.
One such situation happened in 2013 when the Directorate for Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism, in conjunction with the FBI, cracked down on a Gypsy Clan in southwestern Romania suspected of human trafficking. As a result, most members of the clan were imprisoned but the Romanian Government was sued for engaging in transatlantic racism by a coalition of gypsy rights NGOs aided by the EU-funded National Committee for Combating Discrimination.
These practices are simply undermining police efforts to effectively combat organized Gypsy crime. And then the same police get the blame for not doing enough.
If four non-Gypsy Romanians establish a gang to send people to beg in Sweden, the police would find and arrest them in no time. But when a Gypsy clan does exactly the same, the police needs at least one year before it can make an arrest for it doesnt have a perfect case, a judge will not convict for fear of allegations of racism.
Before 2007, police presence in the gypsy-dominated area was commonplace. As a result, the crime-rate in these areas was no different from the national average. After 2007, the police had to undergo sensitivity training and its procedures were altered so as to avoid excessive patrolling in certain places to avoid allegations of racial profiling.
The results were disastrous: Extremely violent fights between various Gypsy clans became common in almost all parts of the country. The level of safety in the Gypsy neighborhoods dropped dramatically, to the point that virtually no non-Gypsy person dare go there a fact known by the public but politically incorrect to acknowledge in the media or in politics.
In some Gypsy neighborhoods, such as the Ferentari area in Bucharest, the situation has gotten so bad that even the police is afraid to go there even with reinforcements. Less than a month ago, over 200 policemen were necessary to safely make an arrest in one of these neighborhoods . Such instances were uncommon (although not unheard of) before 2007 when the law could be applied across the country.
Due to the increase of violence in Gypsy neighborhoods, teachers no longer even try to enforce the law of mandatory schooling (which starts at the age of 6 or 7 in Romania). Before 2007 a police officer and a teacher would go to families and force them to let their children go to school when they turned 6 or 7. This means that the next generation of gypsies will be even less educated than their parents.
Although Gypsies are less than 4% of Romanias population, they make up almost 50% of prison inmates. Meanwhile, the State no longer reports on the ethnic composition of the prison population, so in 2015, the number of Gypsies in Romanian jails may be even higher.
The European Unions dictates have made things worse both for Gypsies and non-Gypsies. Yet the Swedish media seems to think that the EU can fix this.
The only thing that Romania did not do, and will not do anytime soon, is to grant Gypsies extremely generous welfare. That will not happen, even if the country could afford it. Romanians took to the streets in 1989 to get rid of socialism, not to get more welfare. As a result, the post-Communist welfare system is designed on the principle of absolute need and transfers are meant to be temporary.
In Romania welfare is not meant to be turned into a lifestyle as is the case in Sweden. The intention is to help people get back to work. This may sound harsh for some Swedish sensibilities, but it is the truth.
With the sensible measures that worked in the past now being forbidden, little progress will be achieved. We can speak all day long about Romanian policies, about questionable elements in the gypsy culture or about Swedish policies but nothing can or will change until the root cause is addressed. And the root cause is the European Union.
Lucian Vâlsan hosts the radio program A Voice for Men Radio where he is in charge of European news. Hes a blogger and a euro skeptic and resides in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.