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Texts adopted
Thursday, 13 December 2001 - Strasbourg Final edition
Regional and lesser-used European languages
B5-0770, 0811, 0812, 0814 and 0815/2001

European Parliament resolution on regional and lesser-used European languages

The European Parliament,

-  having regard to Decision No 1934/2000/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 17 July 2000, establishing the European Year of Languages 2001(1) ,

-  having regard to the Council Resolution of 23 November 2001 on Linguistic Diversity and Language Learning,

-  having regard to Article 22 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which guarantees linguistic diversity,

-  having regard to its previous resolutions on regional or minority languages, including those on:

-  a Community Charter of Rights of Ethnic Minorities (16 October 1981)(2) ,

-  measures in favour of minority languages and cultures (11 February 1983)(3) ,

-  languages and cultures of regional and ethnic minorities in the European Community (30 October 1987)(4) ,

-  the situation of languages in the Community and the Catalan language (11 December 1990)(5) ,

-  linguistic minorities in the European Community (9 February 1994)(6) ,

A.  whereas all the European languages are equal in value and dignity and are an integral part of European culture and civilisation,

B.  whereas linguistic diversity must be preserved and multilingualism promoted in the Union, with equal respect for the languages of the Union, and with due regard to the principle of subsidiarity,

C.  whereas at least 40 million citizens in the Union regularly use a regional or lesser-used language, accounting for more than 60 European regional or lesser-used language communities,

D.  having regard to the initiative of the Council and the Commission on promoting the European Year of Languages, and welcoming in particular the participation of regional or lesser-used language communities across the European Union,

E.  whereas the principal objectives of the European Year of Languages were to raise awareness of the richness of linguistic diversity within the European Union, to bring to the notice of the widest possible public the advantages of competencies in a range of languages as a key element in personal development and intercultural understanding, to encourage lifelong learning of languages and related skills by all persons legally residing in the Member States, whatever their age, background or education, and to collect and disseminate information about the teaching and learning of languages,

F.  whereas languages must be used in order to stay alive; this includes their use in new technologies and the development of new technologies such as translation software,

G.  having regard to the important contribution lesser-used language communities will be able to make in the context of the Future of Europe debate,

H.  whereas the Commission has agreed to look into the possibility of presenting a draft programme with the objective of promoting and safeguarding minority and regional languages,

1.  Reaffirms that the Member States and the Commission must take measures to enable all citizens to learn languages for purposes of communication as a basis for improved mutual understanding and tolerance, personal mobility and access to information in a multilingual and multicultural Europe;

2.  Stresses the importance for Europe of ensuring provision of lifelong language learning;

3.  Urges the Commission to submit, by 31 December 2002 at the latest, a detailed report evaluating the results of the European Year of Languages and giving an overall assessment thereof, including factual information, with particular emphasis on regional and lesser-used languages;

4.  Calls on the Commission to propose measures to promote linguistic diversity and language learning;

5.  Calls for the Commission to build on the work done as part of the European Year of Languages (2001) towards a multiannual programme on languages before the end of 2003, and to earmark funding within this programme for regional or lesser-used languages;

6.  Requests that, with reference to enlargement of the European Union, the Council and the Commission require candidate countries to respect regional or minority languages and cultures and to respect fully Article 22 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and to adhere to paragraphs 1.1 and 1.2 of the Annual Reports on Progress towards Accession; considers also that the European Union has a responsibility to support the member and candidate countries in developing their cultures and protecting linguistic diversity within their borders;

7.  Points to the fact that it has voted EUR 1 million for preparatory action on the promotion and safeguarding of regional and lesser-used languages, dialects and cultures in the 2002 Budget; insists that the Commission ensure that it is put to good use, and calls on the Commission to find a basis for the continued funding of promotion and safeguarding of regional and lesser-used languages, dialects and cultures;

8.  Calls on the Council to ensure that implementation of Article 22 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights is on the agenda for the next Intergovernmental Conference;

9.  Calls on those Member States that have not done so to sign and ratify the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages;

10.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the Committee of the Regions and the parliaments and assemblies of the Member States, as well as to the European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages.

(1) OJ L 232, 14.9.2000, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 287, 9.11.1981, p. 106.
(3) OJ C 68, 14.3.1983, p. 103.
(4) OJ C 318, 30.11.1987, p. 160.
(5) OJ C 19, 28.1.1991, p. 42.
(6) OJ C 61, 28.2.1994, p. 110.

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