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EBLUL. European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages. Austria Belgium Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hungary. Italy Ireland Luxembourg Netherlands Poland Slovakia Spain Sweden United Kingdom. Member states- 19. Some basic facts…. f ounded 1982

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European Bureau

for Lesser-Used Languages



Czech Republic
















United Kingdom

Member states- 19

Some basic facts….

  • founded 1982

  • democratically governed NGO

  • based on a network of Member State Committees

  • aim: to protect and promote the autochthonous languages of Europe

  • give a voice to the –then- voiceless

  • In today’s EU there are some 40-50 million speakers of lesser-used: regional, minoritised languages, comprising 10% of the EU population


  • generation of information, sharing and networking in the field of language promotion at European and international levels

  • close relations to the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); operational relations with UNESCO and OSCE

  • linking and servicing linguistic communities, through the MSCs, as well as local and regional authorities in EU Member States, supporting their activieties for the protection and promotion of lesser-used languages in the context of linguistic diversity

  • providing and disseminationg information on European policies and programmes to its MSCs, European linguistic communities, and local/regional authorities; seeking adequate partnerships

  • providing information at the European level

Major activities

  • Linking Lesser Used Language communities

  • Providing expertise

  • Documenting, mapping, publishing

  • Organizing seminars, conferences (> PfD)

  • Lobbying and advocacy

Linking linguistic


Providing advice and assistance

Encouraging co-operation

Information on EU programmes


Funding & Networking

  • EBLUL works under Irish law

  • 80% funding from the European Commission

  • minimum 20% from national, local & regional authorities (governments of Ireland and Luxemburg, Autonomous Region of South Tirol, Province of Fryslân, French & German communities of Belgium)

  • since 2007 member fees – differentiated for individual MSCs

  • Project partners

  • Network for Promoting Linguistic Diversity NPLD

  • maybe in the future – European Centre for Linguistic Diversity ECLD


  • Working toward EU Charter for Regional and Minority Languages

  • Supporting Framework Convention for National Minorities

  • Contributing to the draft EU Constitution

Languages in EBLUL

  • mostly those under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

  • „traditionally used within a given territory of a State by nationals of that State who form a group numerically smaller than the rest of the State’s population; and

  • different from the official language(s) of that State*;

  • it does not include either dialects of the official language(s) of the State** or the languages of migrants”

  • *exceptions: Irish, Luxemburgish

  • ** sometimes disputable: Silesian in PL, Võro-Seto in EE,

    also Meänkieli in FI or Kven in NO

Regional languages

  • the case of Low German has opened the new legal opportunities to the regional languages throughout Europe, especially those with a questionable status in own countries. Germany was the first country to use pragmatically the dichotomy in the official title of the Charter and decided to distinguish between the Minderheitensprachen, with a commonly recognized linguistic status, such as Frisian, Danish and Sorbian and the Regionalsprache Niederdeutsch.

  • Poland - obviously following the German example - decided to grant the legal status of a regional language to Kashubian and even included the term into the internal legal system.

  • A way to follow…? 

  • regional language communities very active in EBLUL MSCs, even if not recognized by States (Silesian in PL, Võro-Seto in EE)

Languages of Migrants

  • the Charter [and EBLUL] applies therefore to languages which belong to the traditional cultural heritage of a State

  • migrants – persons of foreign origin who are not nationals of a State; the languages of immigrant communities or those derived from immigration, regardless of whether the speakers of these languages are nationals of the state*

  • languages, also on a territorial base – not speakers with individual rights

    * Woehrling, Jean-Marie 2005. The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. A critical commentary. Counsil of Europe Publishing

Woehrling, Jean-Marie 2005.The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.A critical commentary.

  • „The traditional regional or minority languages are languages which have long been in use in the particular territory*.

  • (…) are closely linked to the history, the geography (toponymy) and culture of the territory. (…)

  • they have to be seen as an element of the national linguistic heritage.

  • The official language is often a more recent arrival (…)

  • the groups which use traditional regional or minority languages consist of nationals who are usually completely integrated into society in the State.

  • *Regulations in individual States: e.g. PL and HU defined „traditional” minorities/minority languages as those who have existed on the territory for at least 100 years.

Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population of the EU Parliamentary AssemblyDoc.8993 – 23.01.2001

  • distinction between historical or traditional linguistic minorities and the „new minorities” emmerging from immigration was a legitimate one, both from the viewpoint of States and with regard to the needs of those minorities(…)

Member State Committees

  • State based non governmental organisations

  • Legally constituted

  • Representative of cultural, educational, and other actors in the area of languages

Eurolang® news servicewww.eurolang.net

  • specialist niche news agency covering topics related to lesser-used languages, linguistic diversity, stateless nations and national minorities within the EU

  • provides on-line daily service across Europe, to NGOs, media, European, State and local government, academia, researchers and the general public

  • launched in 2000 by EBLUL

  • one million hits per month

  • a viewpoint missing in mainstream media > internationalisation of minority issues

  • popular way to spread new ideas

  • communicating Europe to the RML communities (up > bottom)

  • regular reports from countries and regions in the EU (bottom > up)

  • linking language communities

  • helping to initiate language projects, keeping people aware of current best pracices

  • market place for lan guage-related activities: new language learning software, advertising conferences, new music, theatre, books etc.

Partnership for Diversity

  • established 2000

  • series of conferences – the Balears (Catalans), Ireland, Finland (Swedes), Italy (Slovenes), Scotland, Italy (Ladins), Poland (Kashubs)

  • partnership between regional and local authorities and the language communities

Language Policy and the Regions in Europe

GdańskGduńsk Danzig





Some observations…

  • SMILE Report – very small % for RML’s

    (slightly over 4%…)

    co-operation between the differing language communities in partnerships large and small

  • EC Communication on Multilingualism – very little on RMLs


    „Commissioner Leonard Orban launched a Communication on Thursday last week (September 18th) entitled "Multilingualism: an asset for Europe and a shared commitment", addressing languages in the wider context of social cohesion and prosperity. MEPs from the European Free Alliance (EFA) qualified their welcome stating:  “We would welcome specific commitments to the promotion of minority languages and languages that are not yet official at EU level, commitments that have not yet been sufficiently forthcoming. This is a good start but we have a long way to go."

in conclusion…

  • Looking to networks for language teaching and learning in the New Framework for Multilingualism to serve an inclusive diversity

  • Foster a sense of EU citizenship in an environment “where we are all minorities”


President  - Neasa Ní Chinnéide (Éire)

Vice President - John McIntyre (UK-Ulster)

  • EBLUL Board:

    Simon Faber (DE-Schlezwig)

    Mikel Etxebarria (ES-Euzkadi)

    Tangi Louarn (FR-Breizh)

    Domenico Morelli (IT-Arborësh)

    Pádraig Ó Ceithearnaigh (Éire)

    Tomasz Wicherkiewicz (PL-Kaszëbe)




Suur tänan !

Thank you very much !

Большоеспасибо !

Dziękuję bardzo !

[email protected]

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