The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and European Language Policy

One of the themes of the Forum will focus on policies and tools for the protection of language diversity in Europe. The discussion will start with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages to later progress on how this tool and other present and future tools and strategies can be used by Europe to truly ensure that protection and support measures for vulnerable languages are actively implemented.
The impact the Charter has had both at the level of awareness-raising and as a tool for the preservation and promotion of many European regional or minority languages is undeniable, but it also has its limitations. We propose to discuss the relevance of the Charter in the light of the achievements so far, but also of the challenges it faces in the Europe of the 21st century, indeed in the world of the 21st century. By reflecting and discussing on the experience so far, we mean to make proposals to overcome the difficulties it encounters and uncover its potentialities in the form of new readings and new tools for the horizon of the next 20 years of action. We note that the discussion is timely, as in 2017 the Charter will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its creation (1992) and 20th anniversary after it entered into force in 1998.
One of the issues around the Charter is the fact that almost half the countries in the Council of Europe have not signed or ratified it. What can European institutions do so that its member states do it? And, more generally speaking, how can progress be made so that effective and binding measures to support Europe’s languages are taken, especially those in a more vulnerable situation? What should a European Language Policy be like, an inclusive and sustainable European Language Policy based on the principles of linguistic rights of linguistic communities and speakers?
This theme counts with the support of the Committee of Experts of the Charter.

Programme (in progress):

1) Opening lecture

Speaker: Vesna Crnic-Grotic. Chair of the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

Objectives: to present the situation of the Charter, precisely in terms of its relevance in Europe today and in the short- and medium-term future, with ideas on how to move forward. It will focus on the Charter’s achievements but also on its potentialities.

2) First round table: The EuroCharter under discussion

Experts in the Charter will discuss and make concrete proposals on what measures should be taken so that it becomes a more effective tool at the service of the safeguard and promotion of all European languages. We aim at answering questions such as: does the Charter need changes and, if so, what kind? Does it need new readings and/or new tools? Should the monitoring and evaluation process be revised? What can be done so that more European countries sign and ratify it, and so that those who have done so fulfil their commitments? In sum, what can be done so that the Charter makes full use of its possibilities and becomes a more effective tool for the promotion of regional or minority languages?

Participants:

  • Sixto Molina. Head of the Secretariat of the European Charter of Regional or Minority Languages
  • Fernando Ramallo. University of Vigo. Representative of Spain at the Committee of Experts of the European Charter of Regional or Minority Languages
  • Rob Dunbar. University of Edinburgh
  • Eduardo Ruiz Vieytez. University of Deusto
  • Moderator: Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones. Aberystwyth University

3) Second round table: Towards a European language policy

Issues like ratification of the Charter and official status of languages forces us to look into the role of governmental institutions in the fate of regional or minority languages.  Following from the previous round table, in this second round table we mean to open the discussion to questions such as: what can or should European institutions do so that more member states sign and ratify the Charter? How can progress be made so that effective and binding measures to support Europe’s languages are taken, especially those in a more vulnerable situation? Today about half the European languages have no support whatsoever. What should a European Language Policy be like, an inclusive and sustainable European Language Policy based on the principles of linguistic rights of linguistic communities and speakers?

  • François Alfonsi. Rapporteur of Endangered European Languages and Linguistic diversity in the EU, the so called, Alfonsí Report), president of the European Free Alliance/EFA party, and ex-europarlamentarian.
  • Tove Hanson Malloy. Director of ECMI - European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Sabrina Rasom. Vice-chair of the NPLD- Network to Promote Language Diversity
  • Nils Torvalds. MEP, Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe-ALDE
  • Moderator: Xabier Arzoz (University of the Basque Country)

 

Legacy of this theme: Participants will make concrete proposals on the issues discussed. It is intended that these proposals will be taken forward and worked on in different forae and by different interested groups and institutions, such as the Committee of Experts of the Charter itself, the Intergroup of Traditional Minorities, National Communities and Languages of the European Parliament, or the NPDL, amongst others.