Civil Liberties MEPs want to ensure protection of minorities’ rights in the EU and demand the European Commission to propose legal measures with that purpose.

They call on the Commission to start developing a directive on minimum standards for minorities in the EU, which should include “clear benchmarks and sanctions” for those carrying out discriminatory practices.

In a resolution adopted with 44 votes to 4 and 4 abstentions, the Civil Liberties Committee denounces the lack of EU standards for minorities’ rights, as well as of a common definition of minority. MEPs recommend adopting the definition by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) that states a minority is a group of citizens of a state that:

  • maintain “longstanding, firm and lasting ties” with that state,
  • have common “ethnic, cultural, religious or linguistic characteristics”,
  • are “sufficiently representative” in number, and
  • want to “preserve together that which constitutes their common identity”.

The non-legislative resolution highlights the need for an EU protection system for minorities that should be accompanied by a mechanism to assess member states policies’ in this field.

MEPs claim that equal cultural, linguistic and educational rights need to be ensured for people belonging to minorities across the EU -around 8% of EU’s population, whereas those who speak a regional or minority language are approximately 10%-.

Member States should do the necessary to end discrimination in the linguistic field and take “immediate corrective measures” to stop discriminatory birth registration and make sure that ID cards are non-discriminatory.

Rights of Roma people

The resolution voices concern by the number of stateless Roma people in Europe, a situation that deprives them of access to social, educational and health care services and pushes them to “the very margins of society”. MEPs call on member states to set up measures in order to end statelessness and guarantee this minority fully enjoys fundamental human rights.

The full House is scheduled to vote on the non-legislative resolution in November.