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July 2014, Volume 21, Number 3

Eastern, Northern Europe

Romania. Almost 10 percent of the residents of Bulgaria, Slovakia and Romania are Roma or Gypsies, a total of over six million people concentrated in Eastern European EU member states. A third of Roma are unemployed and 80 percent have incomes below the poverty line.

Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in 2007, and in 2014 their citizens won the right to move anywhere in the EU-28 countries and seek jobs, prompting fears of a wave of poor Roma in richer countries and increased crime and welfare usage. Local elected officials sometimes bulldoze Roma settlements on the outskirts of cities, noting that they are often built without permits and may be a source of crime and health concerns.

EU leaders urge residents to do more to help Roma. However, poor local residents often resent extra government-provided help for Roma. A French court in October 2013 convicted 26 members of three Roma families of forcing children to carry out about 100 robberies in Western Europe.

The EU has allocated $22 billion to help "marginalized or discriminated-against groups" between 2014 and 2020.

Russia. The government will require migrant workers to pass a test of Russian beginning January 1, 2015. Private firms and NGOs are expected to create Russian-training centers in migrant countries of origin.

The Russian Center of Migration Studies says that half of the migrant workers in Russia can complete official documents in Russia, but 20 percent know no Russian. Some migrants are expected to buy certificates showing that they passed Russian language tests.