2011. 03. 26.
In her speech, Kinga Gál drew the attention to the fact of how hard it is to define "minorities", their situation is often unique and it is a challenge to ensure their protection in the EU.
At the Conference, organized by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Kinga Gál noted recent research on minorities which shows how west European immigrants have become minorities, and that this is unlike the situation in central Europe. She added that although the situation and the background of European minorities are different they often face the same problems.
She argued that while international organisations have been dealing with the issue of the protection of minority languages since the 1990s, they rarely reached the point where actual laws were passed. It means that there is only a small amount of legislation that can serve as a basis for further codification.
She said that the legal basis of protection is expressed in the preamble of the Lisbon Treaty and in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. However, when it comes to concrete issues the EU has preferred to let Member States deal with them, the reason for this being that Member States are not interested in letting such issues become an EU competence.
In Kinga Gál's opinion the EU did give special attention to the protection of minorities during the enlargement process of 2004, but since then expectations to fulfil requirements, such as the Copenhagen criteria, have declined.
'To move forward in the field of protection of minority languages we have to find areas where a proper legal basis and political openness interconnect', she said, noting that the EU seeks to find these areas.