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The legislative proposals of the MSPI were presented in the European Parliament

The representatives of the international expert group of FUEN presented on Thursday, 28 November 2019 the main elements of the legislative proposals based on the Minority SafePack Initiative in the European Parliament. These proposals, presented at the informal meeting of the Minority Intergroup of the EP, are going to be handed in to the new European Commission alongside the 1,128,385 authenticated statements in the first part of 2020.

MEP Loránt Vincze, the president of FUEN pointed out that they were ready to present the signatures and the proposals to the EC on 3 December 2019, but at the request of the ECI Team of the EC they decided to postpone it, as the new regulations of the ECI offer more opportunities for the MSPI. He pointed out that in its decision in the case of the EC vs. Romania the Court of Justice of the EU confirmed that „the EU is empowered to take measures for the protection of national minorities”, which is a strong argument in favor of the MSPI.

The legislative proposals were presented by the representatives of the expert group Günther Rautz and Thomas Hieber alongside MSPI policy advisor Dénes András Nagy. The MSPI aims to promote the rights of national and linguistic minorities and ensure their protection at EU level and calls on the EU to use the tools at its disposal in this regard. The experts pointed out that although the EU Treaty lists the respect for rights of persons belonging to minorities as an EU value, EU action and EU legal measures for protecting national and linguistic minorities are absent.

The first chapter of the legislative proposals is a Council Recommendation on the protection and promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity in the Union through effective language, education and culture policies for national and linguistic minorities in the Member States. The document asks for effective policy measures regarding education in regional or minority language in educational institutions, special curricula and textbooks, access to cultural life in regional or minority languages, funding to media which publish or broadcast in regional or minority languages; for the promotion of cultural diversity through giving access to culture and funding; for publishing official documents in minority languages, promoting the use of regional or minority languages in public adminsitration, public services and the judiciary, in commerce and consumer protection. It recommends the EC to monitor Member State action on the implementation of their national strategies,action plans or sets of integrated measures for the protection of minorities; to establish  a strong cooperation between the EU and the CoE; to finance the promotion of regional or minority languages through new or existing funds and programmes.

The document asks for the cohesiom policy to be adjusted in order to take into account the situation of national minorities and the role of cultural and linguistic diversity. It proposes special attention to areas inhabited by national and linguistic minority communities during the cycle of programming and performing expenditures from the European Structural and Investment Funds. It also proposes programme rules to promote projects that benefit such communities through better integration in innovation and economic transformation, promotion of multilingualism and tailored measures to imporve the skills and employability of persons belonging to a minority, equal opportunities and the effective inclusion of minorities and their perspectives in the elaboration and implementation of integrated territorial strategies.

The document also contains a proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on establishing a European Language Diversity Centre, which would provide expertise and support to the EU institutions, bodies and agencies and to Member States on the promotion of linguistic diversity within the EU and the protection and promotion of the use of regional or minority languages.

The legislative proposals asks for a Europe-wide research into the added value of minorities to social and economic development in Europe, the approximation of rights for stateless minorities and better cross-border access to audiovisual media services and contents by ensuring freedom of service and freedom of reception of audio-visual content in those regions where national minorities live.

The MEPs present at the event were supportive of the proposals, with Gyula Winkler noting that the MSPI should lead up to solving the Copenhagen dilemma, namely that the protection of minorities is monitored in states applying to become members of the Union, but the same criteria does not apply to the states that are already members of the Union.

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