On 14 January 2021, the European Commission decided to ignore the voice of more than one million EU citizens and that of the European Parliament. The Commission will not initiate legal acts for the protection of national and linguistic minorities under the Minority SafePack European Citizens’ Initiative. With its decision, the European Commission has turned its back on national and linguistic minorities, signatory citizens, the call of the European Parliament to “propose legal acts” as well as a large number of supporting national and regional governments and legislative bodies from all across Europe.
“The Commission rejected the request of those for whom preserving Europe’s linguistic and cultural heritage is not merely a good-sounding slogan, but a daily challenge. The position of the Commission is nothing more than a patronizing pat on our shoulders, while 1,123,422 signatories were waiting for concrete measures and actions. The Commission has now let down the approximately 50 million citizens of the Union who belong to national and linguistic minorities. Millions of them live in a situation of inequality in their own country already, now the European Commission, which is supposed to be the guardian of democracy, the rule of law, dignity and justice, is also turning its back on them” commented FUEN President and Member of the European Parliament Loránt Vincze.
The initiators and signatories of the Minority SafePack Initiative have previously gathered an unprecedented number of supporters in Europe around the issue of national minorities. Behind it there are two ground breaking CJEU court cases, a successful pan-European signature collection campaign, the support of the European Parliament expressed in a resolution with over 75% of the votes cast, as well as a great number of national and regional endorsements expressed in unanimously or nearly unanimously adopted resolutions, including the Bundestag of Germany, the Second Chamber of The Netherlands, the Parliament of Hungary, the Landtag of Schleswig-Holstein, Saxony and Brandenburg, the Landtag of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano-South Tyrol and the Frisian Parliament.
According to the initiators, the European Commission’s decision is flawed in several respects. It discredits the instrument of the European Citizens’ Initiative, the only instrument of participatory democracy of the EU, by refusing to initiate legislation in the case of the fifth successful initiative in a row. Instead of getting closer to the citizens, the EU is constantly ignoring proposals from them – this is today the EU’s democratic deficit. The Commission also rejected the European Parliament’s call as co-legislator to initiate legislative acts despite the fact that the vast majority of members from all political groups in the Parliament supported the initiative.
On behalf of the initiators of the Minority SafePack ECI, Mr. Vincze thanked all those who believed in it and stood up for it throughout. He thanked those who supported the initiative with their signatures and the elected political leaders who supported national and linguistic minorities in the European Parliament, but also in national parliaments, most of them as majority representatives.
“Over the past eight years, we have created value: we have brought together national and linguistic minorities across Europe who have set common goals. The level of cooperation we achieved is unparalleled so far. We have laid the foundations on which we can now build together. We have put the issue of national minorities on the agenda of European politics and drawn attention to all that national communities can give to Europe, but also to our problems and expectations. A great number of Member states and regions stood by us. It is unfortunate that the final decision in our case was not taken by the elected representatives, but by the bureaucrats, who, in fact, rolled obstacle after obstacle in our way from the very beginning. We know that we are right, we want the best for our minority communities, we want the best for the Member States, we want the best for Europe, and the results of our work of almost a decade cannot be taken away from us by this decision of the Commission. Despite our disappointment, we will not give up and we are asking all those who backed us so far not to give up. We have created the foundations on which to build a Europe that sees all its citizens as truly equal” said the FUEN President Vincze Lóránt.