Recently, the Szekler National Council’s initiative calling on the EU to directly fund the so-called national regions in Europe, has reached the 1 million goal, yet the necessary threshold has been fulfilled only in 3 countries until now. To successfully reach the finish line, the threshold must be reached in 4 more countries by 7 November 2020.
The European Citizens’ Initiative is a unique way for us to help shape the EU by calling on the European Commission to propose new laws. Once an initiative reaches 1 million signatures, and at the same time meets the necessary threshold in seven EU countries, the Commission will decide on what action to take on that matter.
E. Sylvester Vizi is the former president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Friends of Hungary Foundation, publisher of Hungary Today. He is an internationally recognised researcher in pharmacology and neuroscience. He has authored and co-authored over 450 scientific articles and several books.
This particular initiative is related to national regions’ claims that “the cohesion policy of the EU should pay special attention to regions with national, ethnic, cultural, religious or linguistic characteristics that are different from those of the surrounding regions.” Outlining its main objective, it says that “for such regions, including geographic areas with no administrative competencies, the prevention of economical backlog, the sustainment of development and the preservation of the conditions for economic, social and territorial cohesion should be done in a way that ensures their characteristics remain unchanged. For this, such regions must have equal opportunity to access various EU-funds, and the preservation of their characteristics and their proper economic development must be guaranteed, so that the EU’s development can be sustained and its cultural diversity maintained.”
Different models of autonomy already exist in the European Union that could serve as a role model for other countries as well. These include the model of the German community in East Belgium or the old Austrian German Tyroleans in the autonomous province of Bolzano-South Tyrol. In the 21st century, in addition to the granting of personal rights, the right to cultural and territorial autonomy will also contribute to the creation of a stable and secure Europe.
In 2004, at a conference in Bucharest, I pointed out that
cultural and/or territorial autonomy for a national minority could also be advantageous for the entire society in which it exists.
My reasoning – still valid today – was the following: experience shows that those regions that enjoy autonomy experience economic growth and an upswing in cultural and scientific life. In this sense, the cultural and territorial autonomy planned for Szeklerland could be beneficial for both the Hungarian minority living there and the Romanian majority.
As the decision of the Council of Europe also states, efforts to achieve such autonomy are useful for minorities as well as for the majority in the society, and they can also serve as an example for all democratic states in Europe.
Protected ethnic groups are not a burden, but an enrichment for Europe.
I do hope that this notion gets wider support in Europe, and thus the initiative of the Szekler National Council will become a comprehensive European matter rather than just an unfulfilled Hungarian dream in the Carpathian basin. To make that dream come true, please go to signiteurope.com and support the initiative by signing it!