Federal Union of European Nationalities
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History

20 November 1949: FUEN is founded in the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. The first “Congress of Nationalities” was attended by around 200 people. The participants felt closely connected to the ideas behind the Council of Europe, which was established in 1949 as well.

1950’s: In the early years the organisation was dominated by regionalists, but soon it became clear that the regionalists and the people representing the national minorities and language minorities had different interests and pursued different goals. Over the years, FUEN has lived on as an umbrella organisation for the autochthonous, national minorities and ethnic groups in Europe. Until the early 1960’s the organisation remained a member of the European Movement and had a seat in its Central Committee.

1954: Povl Skadegard became secretary general of the Union, which changes its name to the current Federal Union of European Nationalities. The husband-wife team of Povl and Jytte Skadegard remains at the helm of the organisation until 1973. This period in the life of the FUEN can be characterised by the idealism of its leaders and a constant struggle to obtain funds and recognition. Many organisations from Western Europe join the FUEN during this period, and the leaders also visit minorities in Eastern Europe.

1974: The Union faces a new direction, in which the minorities of the German-Danish border region play a leading role. Numerous efforts were made to form a more efficient organisaton with sound financial support.

1985: The Nationality Congress (currently the FUEN Annual Congress) was relaunched with its 15th edition in Geneva. A certain competitive situation arouses in this period with the forming of other international organisations devoted to minority issues. 

1989: The year of a big breakthrough, as FUEN was finally recognized by the Council of Europe and received the consultative status.

1990s: For a long time FUEN has been an organisation dominated by Western Europe, which only very infrequently had contacts with Central and Eastern Europe. That changed with the historical changes in 1989 / 1990. The national minorities in Central and Eastern Europe had the opportunity to establish organisations and claimed their rights. In these years FUEN incorporated many new member organisations and developed into an all-European organisation.

At the beginning of the nineties FUEN strongly advocated for sustainable and comprehensive minority protection in Europe. The Cottbus Declarations of FUEN had a decisive influence on the legal documents of the Council of Europe that are currently in force, the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

1995: FUEN was recognized by the United Nations.

1999: On the occasion of the 50th jubilee of FUEN, the historian Jørgen Kühl published a history of FUEN. This publication is available at the FUEN-secretariat.

2006: The FUEN Charter for the autochthonous, national minorities in Europe was unanimously adopted. It is the key document of FUEN with 13 fundamental rights enshrined in it.

2009: the 60 year jubilee of FUEN was celebrated in the European Parliament and in the premises of the Committee of the Regions.

2010s: Over the last couple of years, FUEN has increased and consolidated its team and its presence, running three offices – in Flensburg, Berlin and Brussels.

2017: After a long legal fight, started in 2013 the FUEN achieved a resounding victory with the European Citizens’ Initiative called Minority SafePack Inititave, which asks for EU protection and promotion for minority languages and cultures.

2018: The Minority SafePack Initiative, coordinated by the FUEN managed to become only the fifth succesful ECI with 1,128,385 validated signatures and 11 EU Member States in which it managed to pass the threshold. The succesful campaign increased the organisation’s visibility and established it as the number one organisation in the filed of minority protection.

2019: FUEN celebrates 70 years of existence at its Annual Congress in Slovakia.

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