Assessing the European Union’s support to Regional and Minority Languages 10 years after the Alfonsi Resolution (2013-2023)
The goal of this report is to analyse the EU’s support to Regional or Minority Languages (RMLs) over the Europe 2020 decade, and more specifically after the 2013 European Parliament Resolution on Endangered European Languages and Linguistic Diversity – the so-called Alfonsi Resolution. The Resolution noted that Europe’s endangered languages do not receive enough specific attention within the Commission’s multilingualism policy and that funding for these languages has been diminishing over the years, a situation that must not be allowed to continue into the next multiannual financial framework (2014-2020).
All studies undertaken show that Regional and minority languages are under serious threat of extinction”. One of the major threats to linguistic diversity – and especially to RMLs – is that new technologies are limited to a handful of major world languages, supported by machine translation and different other tools such as deep learning, to the detriment of the great majority of smaller languages. The real danger comes from an approach to linguistic diversity that includes some dominant languages but excludes all other.
This report analyses the evolution of the EU support to RMLs over this period.
The main findings include
- Despite the insistence on the lack of competences on RMLs, the Commission recently launched (2022) a specific call to protect Europe’s most vulnerable languages: Safeguarding Endangered Languages in Europe, under the Horizon Europe Framework Programme. This shows that it is perfectly plausible to develop a specific line of action for RMLs within the current EU legal framework and that it is a matter of political will.
- The exclusion of RMLs in the Commission’s initiatives is creating a widening gap between the languages deemed useful, necessary and linked to progress and growth while others – regional and minority languages – are absent and considered irrelevant. This, in turn, creates an artificial hierarchy through which languages are ranked and perceived as more or less necessary. If RMLs are not incorporated in the new AI technologies, the extinction rate will accelerate, and the loss of Europe’s linguistic diversity will be irreversible.