The European Parliament’s Intergroup for Traditional Minorities, National Communities and Languages, led by Kinga Gál MEP (EPP), hosted a meeting with the Director of the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), Morten Kjaerum, on Thursday in Strasbourg.
Top of the agenda was the draft FRA minorities report. Mr Kjaerum presented the report to MEPs discussing how the Lisbon Treaty and the Charter of Fundamental Rights has helped to augment rights and put the term ‘national minority’ into EU law for the first time. Mr Kjaerum invited MEPs to give input into the report.
Addressing Mr Kjaerum, Mrs Gál discussed the Intergroup’s role as a representative of national minorities at the EU level, its function in establishing institutional co-operation on the issues, coupled with constant awareness-raising. She welcomed the report and opened the floor for an exchange of views with MEPs.
The various questions and comments from MEPs focused on the problems of Europe’s traditional national and linguistic minorities with a general view being that they should be treated distinctly in order to serve their interests better. According to Intergroup MEPs, treating national minorities under a broad ‘minorities’ umbrella has a tendency to blur the specific issues affecting the different kinds of minority, leading to unsatisfactory solutions. One suggestion was to have a specific FRA national and linguistic minority report.
Dr. Gabriel Toggenburg, FRA Programme Manager for Research, agreed that categories should not be mixed up and discussed the “obligation of protection” for the EU and member states towards their national minorities. Morten Kjaerum welcomed the MEPs contributions and looked forward to working with the Intergroup in the future.