New challenges for multilingualism in Europe were discussed on Europe Day

- Press releases

For us, language is more than a communication tool: languages are the base of the European identity and heritage. We can not give up on our mother language for easier communication in world languages, we cannot agree to have whole language groups disappear just because language protection costs – said FUEN President Loránt Vincze on 9 May 2019 in Sfantu Gheorghe / Sepsiszentgyörgy, Romania, at the international conference entitled New Challenges for Multilingualism in Europe, organised on Europe’s day by the Covasna County Council, FUEN and HUNINEU.

FUEN’s President pointed out that nowadays for some there is a false contrast between identity policies and development policies. Economics, everyday life, the state of the society is very important, but for minority communities mother language, education in mother language, the protection of their heritage  and the legal framework which protects them is just as important – Mr. Vincze said.

The European Union needs a multilingualism policy since only 50 percent of its citizens understands English, and we also tend to overstimate our English skills – said FUEN adviser and specialist in multilingualism Johan Haggman. Multilingualism has many advantages, one of them being that it is easier to accept the common currency or agricultural policy if we can maintain our language and culture. Language also means business, as the saying goes you can buy in any language, but you can only sell in the language of the customer – said Mr. Haggman. For persons speaking multiple languages it is easier to find a job, change jobs, get a promotion and better wages, and multilingualism is also important for innovation. The wealthiest regions (South Tyrol, Basque Country and Navarre) and states (Switzerland and Luxembourg) of Europe are multilingual.

Contrary to popular belief multilingualism does not cost a lot: it is covered by one percent of the budget of the EU institutions, Mr. Haggman pointed out. Unfortunately in the EU there is no legal base for the use of regional or minority languages. Furthermore, the positive discrimination of smaller and lesser used languages has ceased to exist in EU fundings, and larger languages are favoured.

Vladimir Ham, President of the German Society Organization of Danube Swabians in Croatia and Vice President of the National minorities Council in Croatia presented the situation of the minorities in Croatia and their schooling system. 22 minorities are recognised since the 2000 Constitution, and their languages are protected by constittuional law. There are three models of schooling for the minorities, the first one offers all curriculum in the native language, the second one has four subject in the language of the minority, and the third one is in Croatian but with a bigger accent on the native language. Many of the Germans in Croatia do not even speak German, so they study in this latter system.

The conference was opened by Róbert Grüman, Vice President of the Covansa County Council and Klára Pappné Farkas, Office of the European Representation of Hungarian National Communities – HUNINEU. Panelists included Erika Benkő, member of the Romanian Parliament, head of the Mikó Imre Minority Rights Legal Assistance (Sfântu Gherorghe/Romania), Breda Pecan, Former mayor of Isola (Slovenia), Ferenc Demeter , Mayor of Micfalău / Mikóújfalu (Romania) and Matija Kovac, Member of Assembly of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina (Serbia).


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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