Europe needs uniform language and minority protection standards!

Europe's traditional linguistic diversity on a regional level is disappearing. Century old and traditionally spoken regional languages are in serious danger of extinction. With every census conducted, the number of autochthonous (indigenous) minority language speakers is decreasing. This applies to "stateless" languages, including Irish, Sorbian, Frisian, Basque, Catalonian, Galician, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish, Friulian, Kashubian or Breton, as well as other traditional minority languages, mostly spoken in boundary areas, like Danish/German in Germany/Denmark, German in Poland/the Czech Republic/Italy, Hungarian in Slovakia/Romania/Serbia, Polish in the Czech Republic/Belarus/the Ukraine, Swedish in Finland, or Slovene in Austria/Italy, to mention just a few examples.
 

The protection of Europe's linguistic diversity is of enormous importance to the future development of the continent. Protecting the linguistic plurality of traditional multilingual regions is not only about safeguarding the rights of a few, it is an indispensable part of the European unification process and the only path to peace, respect and co-existence between nations and ethnic groups in the Europe of tomorrow. Most of the existing conflicts between European states have territorial roots and concern traditional settlement areas of minorities, or bi- and multilingual regions.

 

Europe will only become a continent of peace and unity if we create a place for everyone- majorities, minorities and expellees. We therefore have to

 

(a) recognise our linguistic heritage regardless of historic animosities,

(b) maintain and regenerate the multilingual character of historically multilingual regions, and

(c) allow all Europeans to celebrate their unique identity in their traditional areas of settlement.

 

 

Following are the key benefits of this proposed law:

 

  1. Stateless languages will, for the first time, be formally and officially recognised on all levels of government.

  2. Regions in Europe that have a strong sense of self identity will be able to achieve greater autonomy within the state they are located in, which will allow their citizens to celebrate their unique identity and heritage on a political and social level.

  3. The nation states of Europe have been largely biased in the treatment of their linguistic heritage. Uniform standards across the EU will create a more inclusive European society.

  4. The proposed Act contains all aspects of "best practice" international minority language protection standards- what I call the three pillars of linguistic heritage protection.

  5. Pillar 1: The right to use a native language in all communication on all levels of government.

  6. Pillar 2: The right to education in the native language

  7. Pillar 3: The right to topographic and other signage in the native language

  8. The proposed Act also protects the historic linguistic heritage in areas where a language is in danger of extinction due to assimilation, ethnic cleansing and expulsion. Many European states have a history of assimilation, ethnic cleansing and expulsion. They now deny language rights as the number of speakers has decreased to very low levels.

 

Click here to read the proposal for a European Linguistic Heritage Act