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European Citizens' Initiative aims to make Catalan official in EU

Citizens should be treated by member states equally regardless of language, says president of Plataforma per la Llengua (by ACN Barcelona)

Minority SafePack is an ongoing European citizens' initiative (ECI) aimed at boosting the cultural and linguistic rights of minorities in Europe, including Catalan. Presented this month in Barcelona by FUEN (Federal Union of European Nationalities), the initiative is looking to gather a million signatures so that the EU adopts such measures as full equality for stateless nations, the protection of minority languages and a single European copyright law. An ECI like Minority SafePack is a mechanism allowing European citizens to petition the European Commission to adopt new policies and legislation. 

Òscar Escuder, the president of the Plataforma per la Llengua, an NGO that defends and promotes Catalan culture and language, told Catalan News that the basic aim of the initiative is for "all European citizens to be treated equally by their member states regardless of the language they speak, so that all European citizens have the same linguistic rights." Some of the proposals included in the Minority SafePack initiative are funding for programmes for small linguistic communities, the creation of a Language Diversity Centre, and freedom of service and reception of audiovisual content in minority regions.

Also on an administrative level the adoption of the initiative would ensure linguistic equality across the EU. According to Escuder, "citizens would be able to address and be answered by any of our administrations in any of our languages, so that reciprocity of communication is accomplished throughout the European Union." In fact, Escuder points out that there is already a European law to ensure this but that it is not enforced. In short, says Escuder, the initiative is about "providing the same linguistic rights for all European citizens."

European citizens' initiatives, or ECIs, were introduced in 2007 as part of the Treaty of Lisbon to allow European citizens to participate directly in the development of EU policies. An ECI can put forward any new policies in areas in which the European Commission has the power to propose legislation. The main condition, however, is that the ECI is backed by at least a million EU citizensfrom at least 7 out of the 28 member states. Thus, Minority SafePack is currently gathering signatures in an attempt to reach the million mark on its website, www.minority-safepack.eu. The minimum for spain is set at 40,500 signatures

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