Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Commission looks to promote and safeguard minority languages

To support groups who speak minority languages within the European Union, the European Commission has published a notice for support for measures to promote and safeguard regional or minority languages. This notice includes a call for proposals for action such as research and comparative studies and development of databases and Internet sites.

In various parts of the Member States of the European Union there are indigenous groups who speak a language different to that of the majority of the national population. It is estimated that almost 40 million citizens of the Union routinely speak not only the official language of their country but also a regional or minority language that has been passed on from generation to generation.

Examples of these communities, of which there are more than 50 within the Union, are Basque, Corsican, Friulan, Friesian, Welsh and Saami. The Commission believes these languages form an extremely rich and varied mosaic, and therefore should be respected and preserved.

The Commission is now examining the feasibility of proposing a multiannual action programme in the area of regional and/or minority languages. However, to put together a solid and coherent set of proposals, appropriate to the requirements of European citizens, preparatory work is needed for the design, implementation and monitoring of actions in the proposed programme.

The general aim of this Community action is to make a contribution to the "Europe of knowledge" by building up knowledge, skills and information exchange that will empower citizens.

The Community will partly fund this action, topping-up other sources, such as own funding, or regional and national funding. For the 1999 financial year, the closing date for submission of applications is 25 June 1999 for projects beginning after the 15 November 1999.

The objective of this call for proposals is to prepare a possible Community action to promote and safeguard regional and/or minority languages.

Two major strands are envisaged:

- Education;
- Dissemination.

As a part of the educational strand, priority will be given to projects which make appropriate use of the new ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) and educational multimedia, particularly by encouraging self-tuition and using open and distance learning.

The strand for Dissemination is divided up in two lots; development of European-level networks and exchanges of experience.

Community funding will cover activities to attain the objectives listed above. Examples of these activities are:

- Pilot projects;
- Research and comparative studies;
- Inventories of best practices;
- Inventories of existing material;
- Seminars and conferences;
- Exchanges between players;
- The creation or development of databases or Internet sites;
- Preparatory activities for the implementation of networks.

The Commission has allocated 2,250,000 euro for this call, with which it expects to support 75 to 90 projects.

The application form can be obtained from the address below or at the following website:

URL: http://europa.eu.int/en/comm/dg22/langmin.html
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