Proposed bill on the protection of autochthonous minorities, regional languages and the linguistic heritage of Europe

We, the states of Europe, condemn any form of linguistic, ethnic, religious and cultural repression of the past and present, including genocide, expulsion and assimilation.

 

We actively support linguistic pluralism. We believe that a Europe of peaceful coexistence, tolerance and respect can only be created if minorities, regional languages and linguistic heritage are protected, maintained and promoted.

 

We further believe that in a Europe of peace and tolerance there must be a place for all European cultures and languages in their traditional areas of settlement.

 

 

I. Official languages are determined in each municipality

 

  1. All languages traditionally spoken in the municipality and used by at least 8% of the population according to the last official census shall be recognised as official languages.

  2. All languages traditionally spoken in the municipality by at least 40% of the population according to any census conducted in the last 200 years shall be recognised as official languages.

  3. If no census results are available but it is generally known that a particular language is spoken, or was spoken, by a considerable proportion of the population in the last 200 years the language shall also be recognised as an official language.

  4. If a language currently has official status, but neither of the above points I.1-I.3 apply, the language shall remain official language. No language that enjoys official status shall loose that status.

  5. For the purpose of ascertaining an official language the census results for "languages used", "nationality", "ethnicity" or similar may be used equally.

  6. Districts of larger cities, as well as smaller historic municipalities, which have been incorporated into larger municipalities, must determine their official languages separately.

  7. Hebrew, Yiddish and Roma/Sinti languages shall become official languages in all those settlements, municipalities or parts of municipalities were Jews or Roma/Sinti are known to have constituted at least 40% of the population in the last 200 years or where they still constitute at least 8% of the population.

 

II.   Minimum requirements for an official language


A. Use of an official language in government communication

 

  1. Every resident of a municipality has the right to communicate with officials, in courts, as well as in all levels of government administration, in any official language. This right is not limited to the municipality the resident lives in, but applies to the local, regional, national and European Union level.

  2. All public communication by governmental, administrational and legal bodies, including announcements, websites, advertisements, on the local, regional, national and EU level, which apply to the residents of a municipality, shall be in all official languages of the municipality.

  3. All official documents, including passports, identity cards, driver's licenses, birth/death certificates and government forms shall be available in all official languages.

  4. State and/or privately owned providers of basic services, including gas, utilities, postal and telecommunications, shall always provide their customer service, as well as all forms and bills, in all official languages of the resident municipality of their customer.

 

B. Education

 

  1. Every European citizen has the right to primary, secondary and tertiary education in an official language.

  2. Every resident student of a bi- or multilingual municipality shall study the other official language or languages as compulsory language subjects ahead of any other language, including English.

  3. The establishment of   bi- and multilingual schools in bi- and multilingual municipalities shall be encouraged.

 

C. Topography, public signage and monuments

 

  1. All topographic points in a municipality, including the name of the municipality, suburbs, streets, squares, mountain peaks, rivers, creeks etc must always be officially named in all official languages.

  2. Topographic terms that were introduced for nationalist purposes, to claim territory and change the linguistic character of a municipality, and that have not historically grown, must be abolished.

  3. The text on all topographic boards and signposts in the municipality, leading to the municipality or leading to any topographic point within the municipality, even if the sign is located outside the municipality, must always be in all official languages.

  4. Multilingual boards and signs shall always list the names of topographic points or any administrational information in the order of the number of speakers of each official language spoken in the municipality. All characters shall be of the same size and the text of each language version shall be separated by a diagonal slash.

  5. Historic monuments and inscriptions, that are an expression of the identity of a linguistic group, must be protected and maintained. If monuments and inscriptions have been destroyed for nationalist purposes, to claim territory or change the linguistic character of a municipality and the identity of the people, they have to be rebuilt. Monuments and inscriptions that commemorate racism or extreme forms of nationalism are exempt and must be removed if they currently exist.

 

D. Autonomous Regions

 

  1. Areas where linguistic minorities are the local majority, as well as historic regions with a traditional multilingual character or a strong sense of self identity, shall be able to constitute autonomous regions.

  2. The legislative body of an autonomous region is the regional parliament, elected in free general elections. The autonomous region is governed by a regional government, which is elected by the regional parliament.

  3. To protect and promote the unique identity of their population, the following special regulations shall apply for autonomous regions:

  4. Passports, identity cards, driver's licenses and other papers and certificates issued by government authorities shall have the name of the country and the autonomous region displayed.

  5. Residents of autonomous regions shall serve compulsory military training or alternative civilian/community service in their autonomous region only.

  6. Autonomous regions shall be able to compete with separate teams at all international sporting events, including the Olympic Games, if they wish to do so.

  7. An autonomous region does not have to be one geographic entity. Municipalities may join an autonomous region located in their country regardless of their geographical location if the autonomous region approves of it.

  8. Autonomous regions shall receive full jurisdiction in the following areas: 

 

  • Education

  • Public media, including radio and television

  • Licensing and monitoring of licenses in the areas of postal services, telecommunications, media and utilities.

  • Administration of all government offices and courts within the region

  • Employment of all government officials

  • Administration and monitoring of language laws

  • Language policy in the military within the autonomous region

  • Culture

  • Protection of the natural environment

  • Infrastructure, road construction, railways

  • Police services

 

III. Independent commission

An independent commission, deployed by the European Union, and consisting of independent commissioners selected by the European parliament, shall enforce this bill.

 

 

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