“Now more than ever”: Strong interest for the FUEN discussion meeting on the citizens’ initiative in the European Parliament

- Press releases - Circa 60 participants – among them several Members of the European Parliament – accepted the invitation of FUEN President Hans Heinrich Hansen and Iuliu Winkler, Member of the European Parliament on behalf of RMDSZ/EPP. Together they discussed in Brussels about the rejection of the citizens’ initiative “Minority SafePack Initiative” by the European Commission.

In a "Joint Declaration" is mentioned, among other things, that the European Heads of Government, the Presidents of the Parliament, the Commission and the Council and the chairs of the political groups in the European Parliament will receive a letter, and – based on the negative decision of the European Commission – that they are requested to state their position towards European minorities and to cultural and linguistic diversity. 

The chances for success with an action against the decision of the European Commission at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg are thoroughly examined at the moment by legal experts and lawyers. Based on their expert opinion we will decide about the possibility to go to court. The instrument of the European Citizens’ Initiative explicitly mentions this as a possibility.

We have to seize the momentum and use the strong movement of solidarity among the minorities in Europe and among the Members of the European Parliament. We are considering engaging in a support campaign in connection with the elections of the European Parliament, in order to maintain political pressure and to increase attention for the interests of the European minorities and on linguistic and cultural diversity.
The sentiment during the discussion in the Parliament was clear: the decision of the European Commission is politically motivated and it must not be accepted as it is. The chair of the Intergroup for Traditional Minorities in the European Parliament, Csaba Tabajdi, made it clear: “the decision must not be accepted; together we must act against this scandalous rejection”.

Iuliu Winkler, Member on behalf of the Hungarians from Romania and FUEN-member RMDSZ chaired the lively debate. FUEN Vice President Vincze Loránt introduced and explained the facts and the background of our “Minority SafePack”. “We submitted a solid and tenable proposal. As FUEN Presidium we are unanimously in favour of carrying on with our project, which was based on almost two years of intensive preparation, and to move from our first disappointment to a positive result in the end. The rejection also offers us a chance”, said FUEN-Vice President Vincze Loránt.

FUEN - Director Jan Diedrichsen: “The solidarity of the Members of Parliament confirms our conviction that we are on the right track. Additional to the concrete issue of the minorities, the answer of the Commission also contains considerable political dynamite that may endanger the fundamental ideas behind the citizens’ initiative itself. With this instrument the EU wanted to create the possibility for citizens to engage with the European institutions on an equal level. The decision of the Commission can only lead to the conclusion that the European Citizens’ Initiative is just providing an alibi for alleged citizens’ participation in the EU”, said Diedrichsen.

The “Joint Declaration” – prepared by the FUEN Presidium and adopted by acclamation  - emphasises dialogue as method of cooperation. The European minorities do not want to act against the European institutions or against the Member States, no; they want to work together in order to achieve improvements in minority protection and enhancement of linguistic and cultural diversity. “We continue to offer our willingness to cooperate with the European Commission”, said Iuliu Winkler, drawing a conclusion from the lively and constructive discussion.

Joint Declaration


This is the text of the Declaration:

JOINT DECLARATION

NOW MORE THAN EVER 

Minorities and linguistic diversity are not only a value, but also a responsibility of the European Union 


At their joint session of 25-26 September 2013 held at the European Parliament in Brussels on the occasion of the European Day of Languages, the Presidium of FUEN and the European Dialogue Forum; 

supported by several Members of the European Parliament, as well as chairmen of organisations representing the European national, ethnic groups and language minorities, decision makers, leaders of minority and language diversity NGOs, during an open debate;

adopt the following joint declaration:

We express our disappointment and disapproval with the decision by the European Commission to reject our European Citizens’ Initiative, the “Minority SafePack Initiative”.

The Minority SafePack Initiative was prepared over a period of two years, with the support of renowned EU experts, lawyers, prominent politicians and representatives of many minorities in Europe, before it was submitted to the European Commission.

The aim of the initiative is to secure the rights of the autochthonous ethnic and national minorities and to stop their imminent assimilation which endangers European cultural and linguistic diversity. A coalition from Brittany to Upper Silesia, from Schleswig-Holstein to South Tyrol, and from Transylvania to Carinthia, Austria and Western Thrace, Greece - just to mention some of the regions - was forged. But two months after submitting the request the Commission overruled the proposal, motivating that minority protection “falls manifestly outside the framework of the European Union’s powers”.

In our opinion the Commission took a political decision. 

The decision fails to comply with the EU principle of the “respect for minorities” which is one of the “values it is founded upon” according to Article 2 of the Lisbon Treaty. In this context the citizens’ initiative itself, as an instrument of political participation for the citizens of Europe, is also becoming a complete absurdity.

Therefore, 

  1. We are active European citizens, who want to engage in dialogue, achieve a fair balance of interests and build bridges between people. Together, not in conflict with each other. European minorities and regional and minority languages are added value and shall not be considered as a threat or a hindrance. 
  2. We will not give up our attempts aiming the adoption of a legislative framework that would protect and strengthen minorities, as well as linguistic and cultural diversity within the EU.
  3. We call on the European Commission to motivate in detail their decision in which they rejected our citizens’ initiative.
  4. We reiterate that the citizens’ initiative and the commitment of FUEN and its representatives are foremost aimed at engaging in a dialogue with the Member States and the European institutions. 
  5. together with the committee who has submitted the proposal, we will inform in writing the Heads of State and Government of the EU Member States, the President of the European Commission, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Parliament, as well as the chairs of the political groups in the Parliament about the refusal of the registration and request their opinion on the role of the minorities and linguistic and cultural diversity. 
  6. We call on all decision makers on regional, national and European level to speak up against the decision and to support us.
  7. We thank all the representatives of minorities, politicians, scholars, and private persons who have engaged in our cause. After a detailed legal analysis of the answer from the European Commission, and provided that an action at court is the next legal step of our initiative, we call on the committee who submitted the proposal to seek judicial remedies against the decision. 
  8. Together we want to capitalise on the overwhelming solidarity throughout Europe that we achieved and that we have experienced since the decision of the European Commission. In the upcoming months we consider the option of engaging in a European petition campaign and show that “we are not alone”. With a view to the upcoming elections for the European Parliament, we have to speak with a united voice, based on solidarity, and to exert our influence. 


In the European Union we are with 40 million people and in the Europe of the Council of Europe we are with 100 million people. Our voices have to be listened to. 

Brussels, 26 September 2013

 

 


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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