Question to the Commission on the right of assembly in Romania

2017. 07. 18.

Kinga Gál, MEP, submitted a written question to the Commission on the commemoration held in Marosvásárhely organized on the occasion of the Székelys’ Freedom Day. The question and the reply of Commissioner Věra Jourová can be read below.



Subject:  Right to freedom of assembly in Romania

The commemoration, organised on the occasion of the Székelys’ Freedom Day, has been a recurring issue for several years in Marosvásárhely, Romania. During the preparation of this year’s celebrations, both the police and the Prefect’s Office approved the event and the procession following it. By contrast, the Mayor’s Office permitted only the commemoration to be held at the Székely Martyrs’ Monument, but not the procession following it.

These are not individual cases, but a periodically recurring, systematic issue, in which the individual State and local authorities make contradictory decisions and which also results in discrimination against Hungarians on the basis of their ethnicity. The current mayor has previously banned bilingual street signs, has filed lawsuits against NGOs installing such signs, and has prevented the installation of bilingual signs in State schools.

The Commission has previously confirmed its commitment to promoting the establishment of non-discrimination and equal opportunities in the territory of the European Union. This includes dialogue about the non-discrimination policy and reinforcement of existing policy instruments, including in cases where the Commission has no power to initiate legislation directly.

  1. Will the Commission make the issue of ethnicity-based discrimination, as outlined above, subject to an investigation into fundamental rights?
  2. What instruments will the Commission use for purposes of prevention and to establish an effective legal remedy if a minority group within society suffers discrimination?
  3. Will the Commission include discrimination based on ethnicity and membership of a national minority in the relevant mainstreaming?

Answer given by Ms Jourová on behalf of the Commission

Respect of the rights of persons belonging to minorities is one of the values on which the European Union (EU) is founded. Moreover, any discrimination based on inter alia membership of a national minority is prohibited under Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Besides, Directive 2000/43/EC on Racial Equality(1) prohibits discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin. The directive prohibits discrimination in specified key areas such as employment, education, social security, healthcare and access to goods and services, including housing.

The Commission has no general power as regards minorities, in particular over issues relating to the recognition of the status of minorities, their self-determination and autonomy or the regime governing the use of regional or minority languages. In these cases Member States retain general powers to take decisions about minorities, as according to Article 51(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the provisions of the Charter are only addressed to the Member States when they are implementing EC law.

Language as such, whether main or additional criterion, is not a criterion on which discrimination is prohibited under Directive 2000/43/EC. National language policies, including bilingual public signs, are not regulated by EC law and remain within the jurisdiction of each Member State. It is thus for Member States to ensure compliance of fundamental rights in accordance with their constitutional order and their obligations under international law.