Loránt Vincze, president of the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) that initiated the Minority SafePack
The Minority SafePack is a European citizens’ initiative launched in 2013, whose registration was rejected by the European Commission in the same year because it considered that the proposed legislation did not fall within its legislative competence and should be implemented at Member State level.
This decision was challenged in 2013 by the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) before the EU Court of Justice, which ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in 2017, and the Commission registered the initiative. The organizers of the initiative successfully collected the required number of signatures – more than one million. In December 2020, the European Parliament secured their support for the initiative by a large majority.
Despite the European Parliament’s support, the European Commission reiterated its decision that it has no legislative mandate to protect national minorities, said Katalin Szili, the prime minister’s envoy. According to her, the Commission clearly did not have the courage to take a political decision. With its decision, the Commission proved that it was driven by European institutional bureaucracy and not by solving real problems, she said.
Balázs Hidvéghi, Fidesz MEP, stressed that 50 million people in Europe belong to a national or linguistic minority, so it is no coincidence that the Minority SafePack initiative was a great success. Nevertheless, the European Commission, “under the leadership of the responsible Commissioner Vera Jourova,” has “practically swept this initiative off the table.”
According to Balázs Hidvéghi, the decision is outrageous, unacceptable and cynical, because
when it comes to other minorities, such as the rights of immigrants or the rights of a minority that affects only a small part of the European population, Vera Jourova is the “most vocal advocate of minorities”, “but when it comes to such a serious issue, an initiative that affects more than 50 million people and was supported by 1.1 million signatures, she simply says no”.
As a result, the initiators went to court again. With their lawsuit, they were asking the General Court of the European Union to annul the Commission’s decision.
The European Court of Justice has dismissed an appeal by the organizers of the Minority SafePack European citizens’ initiative against the European Commission’s decision not to take measures to introduce new EU legislation to protect national and linguistic minorities, the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg announced Wednesday.
The Minority SafePack initiative seeks to urge the European Union to improve the protection of persons belonging to national and linguistic minorities and to strengthen cultural and linguistic diversity in the EU.
Following an earlier ruling by the European Court of Justice, the European Commission registered the European Citizens’ Initiative in January last year and collected the one million signatures required for its success, deciding not to take legislative action. The EU Commission justified its decision by saying that the measures taken so far in the areas covered by the citizens’ initiative were sufficient to achieve the initiative’s goal. The organization that submitted the European Citizens’ Initiative challenged the European Commission’s decision before the General Court. The court found that the European Commission had fulfilled its obligation with respect to the contested initiative by holding that no further legislation was necessary.
According to the judgment, the Brussels authority was right to consider that the objectives, activities and tasks of the Council of Europe’s European Center for Modern Languages (ECML) in Strasbourg can also contribute to achieving the intentions of the initiative’s organizers, avoiding duplication and waste of resources. Moreover, it said, the European Commission has rightly noted that its Action Plan for Integration and Social Cohesion includes the promotion of better social inclusion of national minorities through employment, education and social opportunities.
The Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN), initiator of the Minority SafePack, stressed in a statement that the fight for minority rights in the EU will continue regardless of the Luxembourg ruling. In the statement, Lóránt Vincze, MEP of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ) and president of FUEN, called the EU Court’s decision surprising, as it is not in line with previous rulings on the issue.
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