The European Parliament Intergroup for Traditional Minorities, National Communities and Languages had its first constitutive meeting in Strasbourg on Thursday (17th December) electing Kinga Gál to jointly lead the group.
Mrs Kinga Gál (EPP-Fidesz, Hungary) and Mr Carl Haglund (ALDE, Finland) will act as joint co-chairs, along with three vice chairs, for the first session of two and half years. The second session will be shared by the EFA/ Greens and S&D groups. The co-chairs will be joined by a vice-chairman from each group for the duration of the session. The Intergroup gained its formal recognition over the last few weeks winning the support of the required three groups.
Kinga Gál worked hard to establish the Intergroup over the summer months and she has a long political and academic track record in working for national and linguistic minorities. She is joined by other MEPs, Carl Haglund (ALDE), Oriol Junqueras (EFA/Greens) and Csaba Tabajdi (S&D), who campaigned within their groups to ensure that the Intergroup became officially recognised. Davyth Hicks from EBLUL-Eurolang will act as the Secretariat which marks a continuation of the active role that the NGO has had with the Intergroup since the 1980s.
The Intergroup set out a very busy agenda starting with a discussion of the impacts of the Lisbon Treaty and the opportunities it offers regarding national minority and linguistic rights. As a result the Intergroup issued a statement welcoming the Lisbon Treaty and looking forward to working with Member States and the EU for the development of national and linguistic minority rights and protection.
The role of the Intergroup is to serve as an open forum for exchanging ideas and views on the situation and future of traditional minorities, national communities and languages. In order to promote awareness and understanding of minority issues in Europe, the Intergroup serves as a meeting point for political groups, European institutions, non-governmental organisations and minority representatives.
The immediate objectives of the Intergroup are to increase awareness of national and linguistic minority issues and problems related to these; to inform the members of the new European Commission about minority issues; to facilitate the development of policies and practices in support of minorities; and to stress minority rights as an integral part of fundamental human rights and basic principles of non-discrimination.
In the long term, the Intergroup strives to initiate European legislation that will strengthen national minority protection. (Davyth Hicks, EBLUL- Eurolang 2009)