Loránt Vincze on the European Day of Languages: national governments play an important role in guaranteeing language rights but individuals, communities and institutions are also a key factor

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There are at least sixty minority and regional languages spoken in the EU, aside of the 24 official languages of the Union, and these languages do not benefit from any support or protection. Therefore, the languages spoken by not-kin-state minorities are particularly vulnerable, but so are some of the official languages of the EU – argued Loránt Vincze in Brussels at the conference organised by the Government of Navarra region in Spain on the occasion of celebrating European Day of languages.  

The president of the FUEN gave the example of his mother tongue, Hungarian, facing hardships in Slovakia and Romania due to the lack of a proper legislative framework and the deficiently applied existing language rights. „It would be an exaggeration to state that national governments are the only ones at fault regarding the use of the mother tongue, as we can often see that private businesses and shops chose to not use the opportunity and communicate bilingually with their patrons or place bilingual signs. In other cases local governments fail to take the necessary steps to insure minority language rights provided by the law saying that members of the minority community understand the state language anyway. This way they give up on language rights voluntarily. The attitude of the communities and the pressure they exercise on their local governments is key in turning this over. In France, for example we can see that, albeit without the proper legislative background for it, caving to the pressure of local communities, they have started teaching minority languages, regarded as nonexistent until now, in an increasing number of schools. They have also started to use regional languages on traffic signs. There are around 60 thousand pupils learning the Basque language in New Aquitaine alone” – stressed the FUEN President regarding the importance of community attitude.

Loránt Vincze added: „The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages that we celebrate on the 26th of September is a positive example as, at the proposal of the Council of Europe it was adopted by the European Commission. It would be a similarly positive example if the EC adopted other initiatives proposed by the Council of Europe such as the Language Charter or the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and would include them in the EU level legislation”. In his speech he pointed out that minority and regional language protection is at the core of the Minority SafePack Initiative as guaranteeing the right to the use of the mother tongue, education in the native tongue of minorities and establishing a European Language Diversity Centre as well as securing the necessary EU financing for minority languages are among the solutions the initiative proposes. The FUEN President than reminded: there is a lot of work to be done before these proposals can become law.

Loránt Vincze announced that the second edition of its conference on minority communities and language groups will be organised by the FUEN in South-Tyrol in November, and the issues on the agenda will be the promotion of economically underdeveloped regions and the language rights practices in the different regions of Europe.  

MEP Jill Evans, representatives of the different regions of France and Spain, the Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity and the European Language Equality Network attended the event.


Key Topics

  • Political Participation
  • Fundamental Rights
  • Linguistic Diversity
  • Solidarity with the Roma
  • European Citizens' Initiative
  • European Network
  • Forum of the European Minorities / House of Minorities

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