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Signatories in light green, member states in dark green, non-members of the Council of Europe in grey

Contents

The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) is a European treaty (CETS 148) adopted in 1992 under the auspices of the Council of Europe to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages in Europe. It only applies to languages traditionally used by the nationals of the State Parties (thus excluding languages used by recent immigrants from other states), which significantly differ from the majority or official language (thus excluding what the state party wishes to consider as mere local dialects of the official or majority language) and which either have a territorial basis (and are therefore traditionally spoken by populations of regions or areas within the State) or are used by linguistic minorities within the State as a whole (thereby including such languages as Yiddish and Romani, which are used over a wide geographic area).

Languages which are official within regions or provinces or federal units within a State (for example Catalan in Spain) are not classified as official languages of the State and may therefore benefit from the Charter. On the other hand, the Republic of Ireland has not been able to sign the Charter on behalf of the Irish language (although a minority language) as it is defined as the first official language of the state. The United Kingdom has, though, ratified the Charter in respect of (among other languages) Irish in Northern Ireland. France, although a signatory has been constitutionally blocked from ratifying the Charter in respect of the languages of France.

The charter provides a large number of different actions state parties can take to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages. There are two levels of protection—all signatories must apply the lower level of protection to qualifying languages; signatories may further declare that a qualifying language or languages will benefit from the higher level of protection which lists a range of actions from which states must agree to undertake at least 35.

Languages protected under the Charter

The countries which have ratified the Charter and the languages for which the ratification was made are the following:

 Armenia ratification: 25 January 2002

 Austria ratification: 28 June 2001[1]

 Croatia ratification: 5 November 1997

 Cyprus ratification: 26 August 2002

 Czech Republic ratification: 15 November 2006

 Denmark ratification: 8 September 2000[2]

 Finland ratification: 9 November 1994

 Germany ratification: 16 September 1998[3]

 Hungary ratification: 26 April 1995

 Liechtenstein ratification: 18 November 1997

  • No regional or minority languages

 Luxembourg ratification: 22 June 2005

  • No regional or minority languages[4]

 Montenegro ratification: 15 February 2006

 Netherlands ratification: 2 May 1996

 Norway ratification: 10 November 1993[5]

 Poland ratification: 12 February 2009[6]

 Romania ratification 24 October 2007 [7]

Part II applied to:

Part III applied to:

 Serbia ratification: 15 February 2006[8][9]

 Slovakia ratification: 5 September 2001

 Slovenia ratification: 4 October 2000

 Spain ratification: 9 April 2001

 Sweden ratification: 9 February 2000

 Switzerland ratification: 23 December 1997

 Ukraine ratification: 19 September 2005

Ukraine does not specify languages by name, but rather ratifies on behalf of "the languages of the following ethnic minorities of Ukraine":[10]

 United Kingdom ratification : 27 March 2001

All languages are ratified as applicable to the territory of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, except Manx, which is ratified on behalf of the Crown dependency of the Isle of Man.

Notes and references

  1. ^ Austria has ratified the Charter for each language in respect of specific Länder
  2. ^ Notes Verbales accompanying the Danish ratification specified that, whilst the Charter was not going to be ratified in respect of the two languages, Faroese and Greenlandic are each official in their respective territories
  3. ^ Germany has ratified the Charter for each language in respect of specific Länder
  4. ^ Report of the Committee of Experts on Luxembourg, December 2008
  5. ^ Report clarifying Norway's implementation of the Charter
  6. ^ http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/ListeDeclarations.asp?NT=148&CM=8&DF=23/01/05&CL=ENG&VL=1
  7. ^ Romanian law no. 282/2007
  8. ^ Ratified as Serbia and Montenegro on December 22, 2005
  9. ^ USVOJENA EVROPSKA POVELJA O REGIONALNIM ILI MANJINSKIM JEZICIMA
  10. ^ As of July 2007, Ukraine's entry on the Council of Europe site states the following Ukraine declares that the provisions of the Charter shall apply to the languages of the following ethnic minorities of Ukraine : Byelorussian, Bulgarian, Gagauz, Greek, Jewish, Crimean Tatar, Moldavian, German, Polish, Russian, Romanian, Slovak and Hungarian.

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Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) is a European treaty (CETS 148) adopted in 1992 under the auspices of the Council of Europe to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages in Europe. It only applies to languages traditionally used by the nationals of the State Parties (thus excluding languages used by recent immigrants from other states), which significantly differ from the majority or official language (thus excluding mere local dialects of the official or majority language) and which either have a territorial basis (and are therefore traditionally spoken by populations of regions or areas within the State) or are used by linguistic minorities within the State as a whole (thereby including such languages as Yiddish and Romany, which are used over a wide geographic area).Excerpted from European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Contents

European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
Strasbourg, 5.XI.1992
Explanatory Report
Français


Preamble

The member States of the Council of Europe signatory hereto,

Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members, particularly for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage;

Considering that the protection of the historical regional or minority languages of Europe, some of which are in danger of eventual extinction, contributes to the maintenance and development of Europe's cultural wealth and traditions;

Considering that the right to use a regional or minority language in private and public life is an inalienable right conforming to the principles embodied in the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and according to the spirit of the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;

Having regard to the work carried out within the CSCE and in particular to the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 and the document of the Copenhagen Meeting of 1990;

Stressing the value of interculturalism and multilingualism and considering that the protection and encouragement of regional or minority languages should not be to the detriment of the official languages and the need to learn them;

Realising that the protection and promotion of regional or minority languages in the different countries and regions of Europe represent an important contribution to the building of a Europe based on the principles of democracy and cultural diversity within the framework of national sovereignty and territorial integrity;

Taking into consideration the specific conditions and historical traditions in the different regions of the European States,

Have agreed as follows:

Part I – General provisions

Article 1 – Definitions

For the purposes of this Charter:

a.
"regional or minority languages" means languages that are:
i.
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
ii.
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;
b.
"territory in which the regional or minority language is used" means the geographical area in which the said language is the mode of expression of a number of people justifying the adoption of the various protective and promotional measures provided for in this Charter;
c.
"non-territorial languages" means languages used by nationals of the State which differ from the language or languages used by the rest of the State's population but which, although traditionally used within the territory of the State, cannot be identified with a particular area thereof.

Article 2 – Undertakings

  1. Each Party undertakes to apply the provisions of Part II to all the regional or minority languages spoken within its territory and which comply with the definition in Article 1.
  2. In respect of each language specified at the time of ratification, acceptance or approval, in accordance with Article 3, each Party undertakes to apply a minimum of thirty-five paragraphs or sub-paragraphs chosen from among the provisions of Part III of the Charter, including at least three chosen from each of the Articles 8 and 12 and one from each of the Articles 9, 10, 11 and 13.

Article 3 – Practical arrangements

  1. Each Contracting State shall specify in its instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval, each regional or minority language, or official language which is less widely used on the whole or part of its territory, to which the paragraphs chosen in accordance with Article 2, paragraph 2, shall apply.
  2. Any Party may, at any subsequent time, notify the Secretary General that it accepts the obligations arising out of the provisions of any other paragraph of the Charter not already specified in its instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval, or that it will apply paragraph 1 of the present article to other regional or minority languages, or to other official languages which are less widely used on the whole or part of its territory.
  3. The undertakings referred to in the foregoing paragraph shall be deemed to form an integral part of the ratification, acceptance or approval and will have the same effect as from their date of notification.

Article 4 – Existing regimes of protection

  1. Nothing in this Charter shall be construed as limiting or derogating from any of the rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.
  2. The provisions of this Charter shall not affect any more favourable provisions concerning the status of regional or minority languages, or the legal regime of persons belonging to minorities which may exist in a Party or are provided for by relevant bilateral or multilateral international agreements.

Article 5 – Existing obligations

Nothing in this Charter may be interpreted as implying any right to engage in any activity or perform any action in contravention of the purposes of the Charter of the United Nations or other obligations under international law, including the principle of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States.

Article 6 – Information

The Parties undertake to see to it that the authorities, organisations and persons concerned are informed of the rights and duties established by this Charter.

Part II – Objectives and principles pursued in accordance with Article 2, paragraph 1

Article 7 – Objectives and principles

1.
In respect of regional or minority languages, within the territories in which such languages are used and according to the situation of each language, the Parties shall base their policies, legislation and practice on the following objectives and principles:
a.
the recognition of the regional or minority languages as an expression of cultural wealth;
b.
the respect of the geographical area of each regional or minority language in order to ensure that existing or new administrative divisions do not constitute an obstacle to the promotion of the regional or minority language in question;
c.
the need for resolute action to promote regional or minority languages in order to safeguard them;
d.
the facilitation and/or encouragement of the use of regional or minority languages, in speech and writing, in public and private life;
e.
the maintenance and development of links, in the fields covered by this Charter, between groups using a regional or minority language and other groups in the State employing a language used in identical or similar form, as well as the establishment of cultural relations with other groups in the State using different languages;
f.
the provision of appropriate forms and means for the teaching and study of regional or minority languages at all appropriate stages;
g.
the provision of facilities enabling non-speakers of a regional or minority language living in the area where it is used to learn it if they so desire;
h.
the promotion of study and research on regional or minority languages at universities or equivalent institutions;
i.
the promotion of appropriate types of transnational exchanges, in the fields covered by this Charter, for regional or minority languages used in identical or similar form in two or more States.
2.
The Parties undertake to eliminate, if they have not yet done so, any unjustified distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference relating to the use of a regional or minority language and intended to discourage or endanger the maintenance or development of it. The adoption of special measures in favour of regional or minority languages aimed at promoting equality between the users of these languages and the rest of the population or which take due account of their specific conditions is not considered to be an act of discrimination against the users of more widely-used languages.
3.
The Parties undertake to promote, by appropriate measures, mutual understanding between all the linguistic groups of the country and in particular the inclusion of respect, understanding and tolerance in relation to regional or minority languages among the objectives of education and training provided within their countries and encouragement of the mass media to pursue the same objective.
4.
In determining their policy with regard to regional or minority languages, the Parties shall take into consideration the needs and wishes expressed by the groups which use such languages. They are encouraged to establish bodies, if necessary, for the purpose of advising the authorities on all matters pertaining to regional or minority languages.
5.
The Parties undertake to apply, mutatis mutandis, the principles listed in paragraphs 1 to 4 above to non-territorial languages. However, as far as these languages are concerned, the nature and scope of the measures to be taken to give effect to this Charter shall be determined in a flexible manner, bearing in mind the needs and wishes, and respecting the traditions and characteristics, of the groups which use the languages concerned.

Part III – Measures to promote the use of regional or minority languages in public life in accordance with the undertakings entered into under Article 2, paragraph 2

Article 8 – Education

1.
With regard to education, the Parties undertake, within the territory in which such languages are used, according to the situation of each of these languages, and without prejudice to the teaching of the official language(s) of the State:
a.
i.
to make available pre-school education in the relevant regional or minority languages; or
ii.
to make available a substantial part of pre-school education in the relevant regional or minority languages; or
iii.
to apply one of the measures provided for under i and ii above at least to those pupils whose families so request and whose number is considered sufficient; or
iv.
if the public authorities have no direct competence in the field of pre-school education, to favour and/or encourage the application of the measures referred to under i to iii above;
b.
i.
to make available primary education in the relevant regional or minority languages; or
ii.
to make available a substantial part of primary education in the relevant regional or minority languages; or
iii.
to provide, within primary education, for the teaching of the relevant regional or minority languages as an integral part of the curriculum; or
iv.
to apply one of the measures provided for under i to iii above at least to those pupils whose families so request and whose number is considered sufficient;
c.
i.
to make available secondary education in the relevant regional or minority languages; or
ii.
to make available a substantial part of secondary education in the relevant regional or minority languages; or
iii.
to provide, within secondary education, for the teaching of the relevant regional or minority languages as an integral part of the curriculum; or
iv.
to apply one of the measures provided for under i to iii above at least to those pupils who, or where appropriate whose families, so wish in a number considered sufficient;
d.
i.
to make available technical and vocational education in the relevant regional or minority languages; or
ii.
to make available a substantial part of technical and vocational education in the relevant regional or minority languages; or
iii.
to provide, within technical and vocational education, for the teaching of the relevant regional or minority languages as an integral part of the curriculum; or
iv.
to apply one of the measures provided for under i to iii above at least to those pupils who, or where appropriate whose families, so wish in a number considered sufficient;
e.
i.
to make available university and other higher education in regional or minority languages; or
ii.
to provide facilities for the study of these languages as university and higher education subjects; or
iii.
if, by reason of the role of the State in relation to higher education institutions, sub-paragraphs i and ii cannot be applied, to encourage and/or allow the provision of university or other forms of higher education in regional or minority languages or of facilities for the study of these languages as university or higher education subjects;
f.
i.
to arrange for the provision of adult and continuing education courses which are taught mainly or wholly in the regional or minority languages; or
ii.
to offer such languages as subjects of adult and continuing education; or
iii.
if the public authorities have no direct competence in the field of adult education, to favour and/or encourage the offering of such languages as subjects of adult and continuing education;
g.
to make arrangements to ensure the teaching of the history and the culture which is reflected by the regional or minority language;
h.
to provide the basic and further training of the teachers required to implement those of paragraphs a to g accepted by the Party;
i.
to set up a supervisory body or bodies responsible for monitoring the measures taken and progress achieved in establishing or developing the teaching of regional or minority languages and for drawing up periodic reports of their findings, which will be made public.
2.
With regard to education and in respect of territories other than those in which the regional or minority languages are traditionally used, the Parties undertake, if the number of users of a regional or minority language justifies it, to allow, encourage or provide teaching in or of the regional or minority language at all the appropriate stages of education.

Article 9 – Judicial authorities

1.
The Parties undertake, in respect of those judicial districts in which the number of residents using the regional or minority languages justifies the measures specified below, according to the situation of each of these languages and on condition that the use of the facilities afforded by the present paragraph is not considered by the judge to hamper the proper administration of justice:
a.
in criminal proceedings:
i.
to provide that the courts, at the request of one of the parties, shall conduct the proceedings in the regional or minority languages; and/or
ii.
to guarantee the accused the right to use his/her regional or minority language; and/or
iii.
to provide that requests and evidence, whether written or oral, shall not be considered inadmissible solely because they are formulated in a regional or minority language; and/or
iv.
to produce, on request, documents connected with legal proceedings in the relevant regional or minority language,
if necessary by the use of interpreters and translations involving no extra expense for the persons concerned;
b.
in civil proceedings:
i.
to provide that the courts, at the request of one of the parties, shall conduct the proceedings in the regional or minority languages; and/or
ii.
to allow, whenever a litigant has to appear in person before a court, that he or she may use his or her regional or minority language without thereby incurring additional expense; and/or
iii.
to allow documents and evidence to be produced in the regional or minority languages,
if necessary by the use of interpreters and translations;
c.
in proceedings before courts concerning administrative matters:
i.
to provide that the courts, at the request of one of the parties, shall conduct the proceedings in the regional or minority languages; and/or
ii.
to allow, whenever a litigant has to appear in person before a court, that he or she may use his or her regional or minority language without thereby incurring additional expense; and/or
iii.
to allow documents and evidence to be produced in the regional or minority languages,
if necessary by the use of interpreters and translations;
d.
to take steps to ensure that the application of sub-paragraphs i and iii of paragraphs b and c above and any necessary use of interpreters and translations does not involve extra expense for the persons concerned.
2.
The Parties undertake:
a.
not to deny the validity of legal documents drawn up within the State solely because they are drafted in a regional or minority language; or
b.
not to deny the validity, as between the parties, of legal documents drawn up within the country solely because they are drafted in a regional or minority language, and to provide that they can be invoked against interested third parties who are not users of these languages on condition that the contents of the document are made known to them by the person(s) who invoke(s) it; or
c.
not to deny the validity, as between the parties, of legal documents drawn up within the country solely because they are drafted in a regional or minority language.
3.
The Parties undertake to make available in the regional or minority languages the most important national statutory texts and those relating particularly to users of these languages, unless they are otherwise provided.

Article 10 – Administrative authorities and public services

1.
Within the administrative districts of the State in which the number of residents who are users of regional or minority languages justifies the measures specified below and according to the situation of each language, the Parties undertake, as far as this is reasonably possible:
a.
i.
to ensure that the administrative authorities use the regional or minority languages; or
ii.
to ensure that such of their officers as are in contact with the public use the regional or minority languages in their relations with persons applying to them in these languages; or
iii.
to ensure that users of regional or minority languages may submit oral or written applications and receive a reply in these languages; or
iv.
to ensure that users of regional or minority languages may submit oral or written applications in these languages; or
v.
to ensure that users of regional or minority languages may validly submit a document in these languages;
b.
to make available widely used administrative texts and forms for the population in the regional or minority languages or in bilingual versions;
c.
to allow the administrative authorities to draft documents in a regional or minority language.
2.
In respect of the local and regional authorities on whose territory the number of residents who are users of regional or minority languages is such as to justify the measures specified below, the Parties undertake to allow and/or encourage:
a.
the use of regional or minority languages within the framework of the regional or local authority;
b.
the possibility for users of regional or minority languages to submit oral or written applications in these languages;
c.
the publication by regional authorities of their official documents also in the relevant regional or minority languages;
d.
the publication by local authorities of their official documents also in the relevant regional or minority languages;
e.
the use by regional authorities of regional or minority languages in debates in their assemblies, without excluding, however, the use of the official language(s) of the State;
f.
the use by local authorities of regional or minority languages in debates in their assemblies, without excluding, however, the use of the official language(s) of the State;
g.
the use or adoption, if necessary in conjunction with the name in the official language(s), of traditional and correct forms of place-names in regional or minority languages.
3.
With regard to public services provided by the administrative authorities or other persons acting on their behalf, the Parties undertake, within the territory in which regional or minority languages are used, in accordance with the situation of each language and as far as this is reasonably possible:
a.
to ensure that the regional or minority languages are used in the provision of the service; or
b.
to allow users of regional or minority languages to submit a request and receive a reply in these languages; or
c.
to allow users of regional or minority languages to submit a request in these languages.
4.
With a view to putting into effect those provisions of paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 accepted by them, the Parties undertake to take one or more of the following measures:
a.
translation or interpretation as may be required;
b.
recruitment and, where necessary, training of the officials and other public service employees required;
c.
compliance as far as possible with requests from public service employees having a knowledge of a regional or minority language to be appointed in the territory in which that language is used.
5.
The Parties undertake to allow the use or adoption of family names in the regional or minority languages, at the request of those concerned.

Article 11 – Media

1.
The Parties undertake, for the users of the regional or minority languages within the territories in which those languages are spoken, according to the situation of each language, to the extent that the public authorities, directly or indirectly, are competent, have power or play a role in this field, and respecting the principle of the independence and autonomy of the media:
a.
to the extent that radio and television carry out a public service mission:
i.
to ensure the creation of at least one radio station and one television channel in the regional or minority languages; or
ii.
to encourage and/or facilitate the creation of at least one radio station and one television channel in the regional or minority languages; or
iii.
to make adequate provision so that broadcasters offer programmes in the regional or minority languages;
b.
i.
to encourage and/or facilitate the creation of at least one radio station in the regional or minority languages; or
ii.
to encourage and/or facilitate the broadcasting of radio programmes in the regional or minority languages on a regular basis;
c.
i.
to encourage and/or facilitate the creation of at least one television channel in the regional or minority languages; or
ii.
to encourage and/or facilitate the broadcasting of television programmes in the regional or minority languages on a regular basis;
d.
to encourage and/or facilitate the production and distribution of audio and audiovisual works in the regional or minority languages;
e.
i.
to encourage and/or facilitate the creation and/or maintenance of at least one newspaper in the regional or minority languages; or
i.
to encourage and/or facilitate the publication of newspaper articles in the regional or minority languages on a regular basis;
f.
i.
to cover the additional costs of those media which use regional or minority languages, wherever the law provides for financial assistance in general for the media; or
ii.
to apply existing measures for financial assistance also to audiovisual productions in the regional or minority languages;
g.
to support the training of journalists and other staff for media using regional or minority languages.
2.
The Parties undertake to guarantee freedom of direct reception of radio and television broadcasts from neighbouring countries in a language used in identical or similar form to a regional or minority language, and not to oppose the retransmission of radio and television broadcasts from neighbouring countries in such a language. They further undertake to ensure that no restrictions will be placed on the freedom of expression and free circulation of information in the written press in a language used in identical or similar form to a regional or minority language. The exercise of the above-mentioned freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.
3.
The Parties undertake to ensure that the interests of the users of regional or minority languages are represented or taken into account within such bodies as may be established in accordance with the law with responsibility for guaranteeing the freedom and pluralism of the media.

Article 12 – Cultural activities and facilities

1.
With regard to cultural activities and facilities – especially libraries, video libraries, cultural centres, museums, archives, academies, theatres and cinemas, as well as literary work and film production, vernacular forms of cultural expression, festivals and the culture industries, including inter alia the use of new technologies – the Parties undertake, within the territory in which such languages are used and to the extent that the public authorities are competent, have power or play a role in this field:
a.
to encourage types of expression and initiative specific to regional or minority languages and foster the different means of access to works produced in these languages;
b.
to foster the different means of access in other languages to works produced in regional or minority languages by aiding and developing translation, dubbing, post-synchronisation and subtitling activities;
c.
to foster access in regional or minority languages to works produced in other languages by aiding and developing translation, dubbing, post-synchronisation and subtitling activities;
d.
to ensure that the bodies responsible for organising or supporting cultural activities of various kinds make appropriate allowance for incorporating the knowledge and use of regional or minority languages and cultures in the undertakings which they initiate or for which they provide backing;
e.
to promote measures to ensure that the bodies responsible for organising or supporting cultural activities have at their disposal staff who have a full command of the regional or minority language concerned, as well as of the language(s) of the rest of the population;
f.
to encourage direct participation by representatives of the users of a given regional or minority language in providing facilities and planning cultural activities;
g.
to encourage and/or facilitate the creation of a body or bodies responsible for collecting, keeping a copy of and presenting or publishing works produced in the regional or minority languages;
h.
if necessary, to create and/or promote and finance translation and terminological research services, particularly with a view to maintaining and developing appropriate administrative, commercial, economic, social, technical or legal terminology in each regional or minority language.
2.
In respect of territories other than those in which the regional or minority languages are traditionally used, the Parties undertake, if the number of users of a regional or minority language justifies it, to allow, encourage and/or provide appropriate cultural activities and facilities in accordance with the preceding paragraph.
3.
The Parties undertake to make appropriate provision, in pursuing their cultural policy abroad, for regional or minority languages and the cultures they reflect.

Article 13 – Economic and social life

1.
With regard to economic and social activities, the Parties undertake, within the whole country:
a.
to eliminate from their legislation any provision prohibiting or limiting without justifiable reasons the use of regional or minority languages in documents relating to economic or social life, particularly contracts of employment, and in technical documents such as instructions for the use of products or installations;
b.
to prohibit the insertion in internal regulations of companies and private documents of any clauses excluding or restricting the use of regional or minority languages, at least between users of the same language;
c.
to oppose practices designed to discourage the use of regional or minority languages in connection with economic or social activities;
d.
to facilitate and/or encourage the use of regional or minority languages by means other than those specified in the above sub-paragraphs.
2.
With regard to economic and social activities, the Parties undertake, in so far as the public authorities are competent, within the territory in which the regional or minority languages are used, and as far as this is reasonably possible:
a.
to include in their financial and banking regulations provisions which allow, by means of procedures compatible with commercial practice, the use of regional or minority languages in drawing up payment orders (cheques, drafts, etc.) or other financial documents, or, where appropriate, to ensure the implementation of such provisions;
b.
in the economic and social sectors directly under their control (public sector), to organise activities to promote the use of regional or minority languages;
c.
to ensure that social care facilities such as hospitals, retirement homes and hostels offer the possibility of receiving and treating in their own language persons using a regional or minority language who are in need of care on grounds of ill-health, old age or for other reasons;
d.
to ensure by appropriate means that safety instructions are also drawn up in regional or minority languages;
e.
to arrange for information provided by the competent public authorities concerning the rights of consumers to be made available in regional or minority languages.

Article 14 – Transfrontier exchanges

The Parties undertake:

a.
to apply existing bilateral and multilateral agreements which bind them with the States in which the same language is used in identical or similar form, or if necessary to seek to conclude such agreements, in such a way as to foster contacts between the users of the same language in the States concerned in the fields of culture, education, information, vocational training and permanent education;
b.
for the benefit of regional or minority languages, to facilitate and/ or promote co-operation across borders, in particular between regional or local authorities in whose territory the same language is used in identical or similar form.

Part IV – Application of the Charter

Article 15 – Periodical reports

  1. The Parties shall present periodically to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, in a form to be prescribed by the Committee of Ministers, a report on their policy pursued in accordance with Part II of this Charter and on the measures taken in application of those provisions of Part III which they have accepted. The first report shall be presented within the year following the entry into force of the Charter with respect to the Party concerned, the other reports at three-yearly intervals after the first report.
  2. The Parties shall make their reports public.

Article 16 – Examination of the reports

  1. The reports presented to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe under Article 15 shall be examined by a committee of experts constituted in accordance with Article 17.
  2. Bodies or associations legally established in a Party may draw the attention of the committee of experts to matters relating to the undertakings entered into by that Party under Part III of this Charter. After consulting the Party concerned, the committee of experts may take account of this information in the preparation of the report specified in paragraph 3 below. These bodies or associations can furthermore submit statements concerning the policy pursued by a Party in accordance with Part II.
  3. On the basis of the reports specified in paragraph 1 and the information mentioned in paragraph 2, the committee of experts shall prepare a report for the Committee of Ministers. This report shall be accompanied by the comments which the Parties have been requested to make and may be made public by the Committee of Ministers.
  4. The report specified in paragraph 3 shall contain in particular the proposals of the committee of experts to the Committee of Ministers for the preparation of such recommendations of the latter body to one or more of the Parties as may be required.
  5. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe shall make a two-yearly detailed report to the Parliamentary Assembly on the application of the Charter.

Article 17 – Committee of experts

  1. The committee of experts shall be composed of one member per Party, appointed by the Committee of Ministers from a list of individuals of the highest integrity and recognised competence in the matters dealt with in the Charter, who shall be nominated by the Party concerned.
  2. Members of the committee shall be appointed for a period of six years and shall be eligible for reappointment. A member who is unable to complete a term of office shall be replaced in accordance with the procedure laid down in paragraph 1, and the replacing member shall complete his predecessor's term of office.
  3. The committee of experts shall adopt rules of procedure. Its secretarial services shall be provided by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

Part V – Final provisions

Article 18

This Charter shall be open for signature by the member States of the Council of Europe. It is subject to ratification, acceptance or approval. Instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval shall be deposited with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

Article 19

  1. This Charter shall enter into force on the first day of the month following the expiration of a period of three months after the date on which five member States of the Council of Europe have expressed their consent to be bound by the Charter in accordance with the provisions of Article 18.
  2. In respect of any member State which subsequently expresses its consent to be bound by it, the Charter shall enter into force on the first day of the month following the expiration of a period of three months after the date of the deposit of the instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval.

Article 20

  1. After the entry into force of this Charter, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe may invite any State not a member of the Council of Europe to accede to this Charter.
  2. In respect of any acceding State, the Charter shall enter into force on the first day of the month following the expiration of a period of three months after the date of deposit of the instrument of accession with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

Article 21

  1. Any State may, at the time of signature or when depositing its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, make one or more reservations to paragraphs 2 to 5 of Article 7 of this Charter. No other reservation may be made.
  2. Any Contracting State which has made a reservation under the preceding paragraph may wholly or partly withdraw it by means of a notification addressed to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. The withdrawal shall take effect on the date of receipt of such notification by the Secretary General.

Article 22

  1. Any Party may at any time denounce this Charter by means of a notification addressed to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
  2. Such denunciation shall become effective on the first day of the month following the expiration of a period of six months after the date of receipt of the notification by the Secretary General.

Article 23

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe shall notify the member States of the Council and any State which has acceded to this Charter of:

a.
any signature;
b.
the deposit of any instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession;
c.
any date of entry into force of this Charter in accordance with Articles 19 and 20;
d.
any notification received in application of the provisions of Article 3, paragraph 2;
e.
any other act, notification or communication relating to this Charter.

In witness whereof the undersigned, being duly authorised thereto, have signed this Charter.

Done at Strasbourg, this 5th day of November 1992, in English and French, both texts being equally authentic, in a single copy which shall be deposited in the archives of the Council of Europe. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe shall transmit certified copies to each member State of the Council of Europe and to any State invited to accede to this Charter.


Simple English

The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) is a European treaty that was adopted in 1992.

It was designed by the Council of Europe to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages in Europe. It only applies to languages traditionally used by the nationals of the State Parties which have a lot of differences from the majority or official language. This means that the treaty does not protect languages used by recent immigrants from other countries. Also, the treaty does not protect local dialects of (ways of speaking) the official or majority language)

To be protected a language should be spoken either by

  • the people living in a region or area of the country; or by
  • a minority in the country as a whole (this means languages such as Yiddish and Romani are covered by the treaty even though there is no "Romani region").

National official languages are not covered by the treaty, but regional official languages can be. For example, Catalan is only official within a region of Spain, so could benefit from the treaty but Irish cannot because it is an official language in Republic of Ireland, even though it is a minority language. However Irish is protected in Northern Ireland because it is not an official or national language of the United Kingdom.

France has signed the treaty, but the French constitution does not allow the government to support languages apart from French.

Contents

What the Charter does

There are two levels of protection. Every country which has signed the treaty must give all qualifying languages the lower level of protection. Countries can also decide to give some languages the higher level of protection. The higher level is a list of things countries should do. A country giving higher protection must do at least 35 of these things.

Languages protected under the Charter

The countries which have ratified the Charter and the languages for which the ratification was made are the following:

 Armenia ratification: 25 January 2002


 Austria ratification: 28 June 2001[1]


 Croatia ratification: 5 November 1997


 Cyprus ratification: 26 August 2002


 Czech Republic ratification: 15 November 2006

  • Slovak (parts II and III, in all of the Republic)
  • Polish (part II; and part III in the Frydek-Místek and Karviná districts of the Moravian-Silesian Region)
  • German (part II only)
  • Romani (part II only)

 Denmark ratification: 8 September 2000[2]

  • German (in Southern Jutland)

 Finland ratification: 9 November 1994


 Germany ratification: 16 September 1998[3]


 Hungary ratification: 26 April 1995


 Liechtenstein ratification: 18 November 1997

  • No regional or minority languages

 Luxembourg ratification: 22 June 2005

  • (to be confirmed)[4]

 Montenegro ratification: 15 February 2006


 Netherlands ratification: 2 May 1996

 Norway ratification: 10 November 1993

  • Kvensk
  • Sami

 Serbia ratification: 15 February 2006


 Slovakia ratification: 5 September 2001


 Slovenia ratification: 4 October 2000


 Spain ratification: 9 April 2001


 Sweden ratification: 9 February 2000


 Switzerland ratification: 23 December 1997


 Ukraine ratification: 19 September 2005

Ukraine does not specify languages by name, but rather ratifies on behalf of the languages of the following ethnic minorities:[5]


 United Kingdom ratification : 27 March 2001

All languages are ratified as applicable to the territory of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, except Manx, which is ratified on behalf of the Crown dependency of the Isle of Man.

References

  1. Austria has ratified the Charter for each language in respect of the named Länder
  2. Notes Verbales accompanying the Danish ratification specified that, whilst the Charter was not going to be ratified in respect of the two languages, Faroese and Greenlandic are each official in their respective territories
  3. Germany has ratified the Charter for each language in certain Länder
  4. Luxembourg is not listed on the Council of Europe site
  5. As of July 2007, Ukraine's entry on the on the Council of Europe site does not list the languages in respect of which the Republic of Ukraine has ratified the Charter.

Other pages

  • European languages
  • Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
  • Languages of the European Union
  • Language policy in France
  • Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights
  • Vergonha

Other websites

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