A monitoring procedure to promote the application of the Charter for Minority Languages in Europe

The European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages plays a unique role in protecting and supporting these languages in Europe. The Culture Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) therefore regrets to note that, to date, only 25 of the 47 member states have ratified the Charter, 8 have signed it and 14 states have neither ratified nor signed it.

The committee, which is meeting in Budapest today, expressed its concern at the fact that several member states have not yet submitted their report on the application of the Charter, “some member states have even failed to carry out an entire monitoring cycle”, which makes the work of the Committee of Experts and of the Committee of Ministers on protecting and promoting support for regional or minority languages difficult.

In its draft recommendation, based on the report by Rózsa Hoffmann (Hungary, EPP/CD), the committee asks the Committee of Ministers, the executive body of the Council of Europe, to encourage each member state “to take the necessary steps to ratify the Charter, if they have not already done so, or in the event that they have already ratified the Charter, to ensure that it is put into practice and that they broaden the scope of their commitments”.

The committee calls on the Committee of Ministers to devise a procedure under which it authorises the Committee of Experts to carry out, after issuing a preliminary warning, “the monitoring procedure in respect of states which lag far behind in submitting the report provided for under Article 15 of the Charter” and to report to the PACE on the application of this procedure.

In a draft resolution, also adopted at its meeting, the committee urged European governments to take the necessary steps to ensure that the right to use regional or minority languages “is recognised in all aspects of the life of the community.

States should “ensure that it is possible to study in the regional or minority language for the entire duration of schooling” and, vis-à-vis the administrative authorities and public service organisations, “allow the use of the language, irrespective of the language threshold, in the areas where its speakers are traditionally present and where there is an interest in using the language”.

The PACE will discuss the draft recommendation and draft resolution at its next plenary session (Strasbourg, 22-26 January 2018).