The Council of Europe and the European Union frameworks in the legal protection of minority languages: unity or diversity?

  • Alessia Vacca


This article focuses on the comparison between European Union Law and Council of Europe Law in the field of the protection of minority languages and looks at the relationships between the two systems. The Council of Europe has been very important in the protection of minority languages, having created two treaties of particular relevance: the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in 1992 and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in 1995; both treaties contain many detailed provisions relating to minority languages. Not all countries, even of the European Union, have ratified these treaties. 12 out of 27 EU countries did not ratify the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. The European Union supports multilingualism because it wants to achieve unity while maintaining diversity. Important steps, with respect to minority languages, were taken in the European Community, notably in the form of European Parliament Resolutions. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, approved in Nice the 7th December 2000, contains art. 21 and art. 22 related to this topic. The Treaty of Lisbon makes a cross reference to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union which is, consequently, legally binding under the Treaty of Lisbon since December 2009. The Charter could give ground for appeal to the European Court of Justice in cases of discrimination on the grounds of language


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