You are not alone. One million signatures for diversity in Europe.
In the European Union there are about 50 million people who belong to a national minority or a minority language community. In the EU alone there are, next to 24 official languages, more than 60 regional or minority languages: this is Europe’s best-kept secret!
These minorities make a valuable contribution to the linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe. Together with other Europeans they want to define the future of the European Union; a future in which not only official languages or dominant cultures, but also autochthonous minorities are taken into account. In order to preserve their identity, the minority communities need protection and support. This is what we want to achieve with the Minority SafePack Initiative.
The rights of the national and linguistic minorities are not always respected. In many cases their language and culture are endangered. These communities want to have the chance to live their life according to their own traditions. If we want to maintain a diverse Europe, the time has come to support and to promote the values of the minorities too.
The Minority SafePack Initiative does not want to take anything from the majority communities or from Europe. It simply wants to make a contribution to its linguistic and cultural diversity.
The organisations represented in the Minority Council are members of the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN). Together with more than 90 FUEN-member organisations they started this European citizens’ initiative. The initiative is the most important solidarity action of the minorities in Europe in recent decades.
A team of experts elaborated the Minority SafePack, which contains a set of measures and concrete legal acts (laws) for the promotion and protection of the European minorities and the regional and minority languages. These include political measures in the areas of regional and minority languages, education and culture, regional policy, participation, equality, audiovisual media services and other media content and also regional (state) aid.
In a unique action of solidarity, the minorities collected more than 1.2 million signatures for diversity in Europe between April 2017 and April 2018. At the hearing in the European Parliament on 15 October 2020, the overwhelming majority of MEPs expressed their support for the demands of the Minority SafePack Initiative. On 17 December 2020, a large majority in the European Parliament – with 524 votes out of 694 – adopted a resolution in support of the initiative. This makes the MSPI the first European Citizens’ Initiative on the basis of which a plenary debate was convened and a resolution adopted by the European Parliament. The positive development confirmed that together we have succeeded in showing the decision-makers in Brussels and in the European states: We are here, we are many and we want to help shape and decide.
A setback soon followed, however. On January 14, 2021, the European Commission decided to ignore the voices of over a million European citizens and the European Parliament, and not to introduce legislation to protect national and linguistic minorities as part of the Minority SafePack European Citizens’ Initiative.
The Minority Council of the four autochthonous national minorities and ethnic groups reacted to the decision by the European Commission with incomprehension and criticism (see response of January 29, 2021). The Minority Council called on federal German politicians to give a clear signal to the Commission that it should revise its ruling against the MSPI.
It is all the more welcome that the Traffic Light Coalition comprising the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens (Bündnis90/Die Grünen) and Liberals (FDP) agreed in its coalition agreement of November 24, 2021, to proactively implement the MSPI in Germany, and to expand projects for preserving and promoting the minorities. It remains to be seen if this initiative can give new impetus to the long-overdue enshrinement of minority protection in the law of the European Union.
To the initiative’s website: www.minority-safepack.eu