Romanian beggars talked to Swedish Radio News. Photo: Anna-Karin Sivberg/SR

Stockholm councillor to talk begging in Brussels

3:55 min

On Tuesday the Stockholm city councillor in charge of social welfare is in Brussels hoping for action on EU migrants begging. Many of the beggars in sweden are from Romania's Roma minority.

Councillor Anna König Jerlmy is hping for action from EU Commissioner Viviane Reding, who is in charge of justice, citizenship and fundamental rights.

Anna König Jerlmyr says the large number of beggars on the streets are not only suffering themselves, but also risk making Stockholmers desensitised to human suffering.

The Stockholm councillor wants to talk with the EU commissioner about what effect EU rules on free movement have on the local level. Maybe EU money can help.

But currently many EU citizens here are homeless. One is Marcella. Swedish Radio met her with her daughter, waiting to use the shower at a shelter for homeless people. She says people spit and swear at her when she begs in the Metro station. She understands many see her as a problem, but that she has no other choice. That in Romania she cannot get a job.

But Răduţa Matache does not agree. She is Romania's ambassador in Sweden, and says her country is working against the discrimination Roma people face, to make the education system better, and she says there are jobs, for those who want them.

"She's lying" says Marcella, who says she has applied for many jobs, but not got any.

The ambassador also says Swedes must share responsibility for the situation: As long as begging pays, the Romanian government cannot succeed in its work, says Răduţa Matache. In Romania begging is illegal.

But that is not what Stockholm councillor Anna König Jerlmyr wants. She wouldd rather see the EU help, by creating some jobs that offer a more attractive way of making money than begging.

And she puts the ball back in Romania's court, by saying that they will need to make sure they offer education to Roma children, and that the EU needs to be checking up on this.

She says her and her opposite numbers from other cities will be putting pressure on the EU Commission.

And Marcella is not set on staying in the city of Stockholm. She says all she wants is a job. Ideally one back in Romania.

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