Respect for and promotion of diversity Linguistic and cultural diversity

Aside from protection from discrimination, minorities also require respect for and promotion of their differences. EU law in this field of respect for and promotion of diversity does exist, and is increasing in strength and quantity (although this is not to claim that EU law respects and promotes minority cultures adequately). Support for diversity in EU law comes in the form of support for diversity between member states, as well as (although less so) diversity within member states; that is, it includes respect for national diversity and subnational diversity. The latter is important in the protection of minority rights.

Respect for and promotion of diversity in EU law started in the field of linguistic and cultural diversity. From as early as 1981, the European Parliament issued Resolutions calling for measures to support linguistic and cultural minorities in the EU (European Parliament, 1981, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1994, 2001). This marked the beginnings of discussion regarding minority protection at the EU institutional level. However, the response to this call for action was slow to come. It was only with the 1993 Treaty establishing the European Community that the rhetoric of the European Parliament was translated into legal provisions, through what are now Articles 166 and 167 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Article 166 TFEU enables the EU to support and supplement the actions of the member states in the field of education, whilst respecting their cultural and linguistic diversity. Article 167 TFEU enables the EU to contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the member states. Article 22 CFR also proclaims that '[t]he Union shall respect, cultural, religious and linguistic diversity'. The competences within the Treaty provided the basis for the EU's funding programmes which supported cultural and linguistic diversity in the EU, including Culture 2000; 2007-2013 (European Parliament and Council, 2000b, 2006a), and intercultural dialogue (European Commission, 2007a). Disappointingly not many of these projects supported minority group cultures, although some did, indicating that the funding programmes can be used for this purpose (see e.g. Ahmed and Hervey, 2003/2004; European Commission, 2014c), and that there is potential therefore for some plurality in what is essentially an organisation operating on the basis of formal equality for its citizens and residents. The EU's intercultural dialogue activities encompass an element of 'open method of coordination', through which best practices in cultural support are exchanged between member states.8

More specific to language diversity, three aspects of language policy in EU law create a direct relationship between minority language users and the EU. Minority languages with official recognition in member states are recognised to a certain degree within the EU (see above). This provides a special right for these minority language users. Moreover, the Commission created the post of European Commissioner for Multilingualism in 2007. The Commissioner promotes minority languages within its mandate. Likewise, the EU provides funding for the Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity (taking over the functions of the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages) - an organisation whose mandate is to promote the minority and lesser used languages of the EU. Although there is no legal right for minority language users in this respect, the work of the Commissioner and the Network does recognise the special protection required for minority and lesser used languages.

Overall, diversity policy in the EU is arguably quite narrow, especially given the fact that funding programmes were not committed to funding minority projects. The field of cultural diversity has also become stagnant over the last decade, with no development in direction beyond funding streams and exchange of best practices Although Roma are singled out as part of the EU's cultural policy, other groups are not specifically targeted. Thus, EU cultural policy has had a minimal impact on minority groups. Instead, recent years have witnessed the emergence of other areas of diversity in the EU. Freedom of religion is one such area.

 
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