The EU´s silence on the issue of national and linguistic minorities: a historic mistake

My belief, and that of another 40 million EU citizens, is that the EU´s stubbornness, to remain silent on the matter of national and linguistic minorities in Europe, is a mistake of historic proportions; affirmed MEP Iuliu Winkler (RMDSZ, EPP) in his Written Declaration forwarded to the European Parliament´s Plenary this Wednesday, in the context of the debate following the State of the Union speech of European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker. The MEP´s statement comes as a follow-up to President Juncker´s concluding assertion that “History will not remember us … but will remember our mistakes”.

“In his speech on the state of the EU, I have once again not heard any reference to a subject that directly touches 40 million EU citizens. I welcomed his claim stating, “Europe cannot become a melting pot” that terminates identities; however, Jean-Claude Juncker refrained from mentioning Europe´s national and linguistic minorities”, declared the MEP.

Iuliu Winkler appreciates that the Commission President had a balanced speech in which he referred to positive developments, but also to the many challenges the EU is facing. He addressed both the European farmers and its industry, tackling the digital economy, the youth and their opportunities, as well as the elderly, and the need for social fairness, while touching on matters that are both under the EU´s exclusive competence alongside those that are subject to Member State decision-making.

“I agree that the Lisbon Treaty needs to be adjusted, in order to bring about an EU Foreign Minister, but we would also need a European Commissioner that has attributes covering the matter of national and linguistic minorities. We require the political will of the Commission for the establishment of a legal framework for the harmonization of the rights of ethnic minorities”, emphasized Winkler on the backdrop that the 40 million EU citizens belonging to historic ethnic minorities and linguistic communities represent 8% of the EU population.

In his declaration, the MEP notes the antithesis between President Juncker´s statement according to which the citizens should be paid more attention to, and the fact that the Minority Safe Pack, a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) proposed by RMDSZ under the umbrella of FUEN (Federal Union of European Nationalities), has been rejected by the European Commission. ”We need to listen to the citizen… we need to do that more intensely, argued Juncker. Yet, the ECI submitted by RMDSZ under the umbrella of FUEN – the Minority Safe Pack – has been dismissed by the Commission”, stressed Iuliu Winkler in his declaration.