On September 11, lawmakers of the European Union (EU) voted 92% in favour of a report drafted by Corsican MEP François Alfonsi with the aim of protecting endangered and minority languages in Europe. The opposition was concentrated in French center-right MEPs who insisted that the report contradicted Article 2 of the French Constitution.
What Is the Report About?
Wednesday’s resolution is a non-binding agreement to promote the creation of plans to protect endangered languages. According to Alfonsi, the percentages of the voting are a reflection of the importance that the issue has acquired lately. Now, the way to go is learning from countries which have successfully implemented plans to save their local languages and making more funds available for the creation and implementation of new ones.
Alfonsi added that the European Union’s interest in minority languages and cultural biodiversity is equivalent to its interest in protecting endangered wildlife. This new report is a step forward to making the European Commission closer to those communities which do not contain a high number of people and, therefore, tend not to meet the financial aid criteria.
With 92% of positive votes, the report gained the approval of even those countries which had not ratified the Council of Europe’s Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, which was adopted in 1992 and with similar aims.
However, the opposition consisted of MEPs from the French centre-right party who said that the French Constitution stated that the French language founds the unity of the Republic. A positive vote could have been regarded, then, as a contradiction between the report and the Constitution.
MEP Constance Le Grip stated that regional languages are not threatened in France and that there was no need to back up the report, as it could instead, open sensitive doors. With this, Le Grip is referring to the minority languages which are spoken primarily by regions in France with a separatist tendency, like Corsica or the Basque Country.
Other French centre-right MEPs, like Alain Cadec, decided to vote in favour of the report anyway. Cadec explained that he considers that French is always going to be the language of the Republic and that recognition of minority languages does not really question the unity of France.