Democracy for all: protecting minority rights through the European Citizens’ Initiative

“The voices of minorities should be heard and not forgotten in a Europe for all”, said Maylis Roßberg in Aabenraa, Denmark

EFA visited last week the German-Danish border region, where 4 minority groups live: the Danes in Germany, the Germans in Denmark, the Sinti and Roma, and the Frisians. In the town of Aabenraa, on the Danish side, we held an event on EU minority policy. It counted on the participation of EFA Spitzenkandidatin Maylis Roßberg, EFA President Lorena López de Lacalle, and the FUEN Vice-President Gösta Toft, from the German minority in Denmark. Mr. Toft is also the Chairman of the Schleswig Party (EFA member party) Regional Committee. The event focused on the European Citizens’ Initiative, a tool that the EU offers for citizens to propose legislative initiatives to the European Commission.

FUEN, the Federal Union of European Nationalities, is an NGO representing ethnic, linguistic, and national minorities within Europe. Mr. Gösta Toft explained that FUEN presented an initiative, the Minority Safepack Initiative, through the European Citizens’ Initiative. The Commission considered their proposal but rejected it, arguing that all the measures either already existed or aren’t in the EU’s powers. FUEN appealed this decision in the Court of Justice of the EU, where the procedure is now stuck. “We hope that the Court of Justice fails in our favour and the Initiative can be implemented soon”, said Mr. Toft.

“With the European Citizens’ Initiative, all EU citizens can make a request for legislation and draw attention to their needs in Brussels.”, explained Lorena López de Lacalle. “Nevertheless the EU institutions have to take seriously the demands of the citizens and listen to all of them, also to those belonging to minority groups”, she added. EFA Spitzenkandidatin Maylis Roßberg agreed: “It is time for the voices of minorities to be listened to in a Europe for all”, she stated.