European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) is a European treaty that was adopted in 1992.

It was designed by the Council of Europe to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages in Europe. It only applies to languages traditionally used by the nationals of the State Parties which have a lot of differences from the majority or official language. This means that the treaty does not protect languages used by recent immigrants from other countries. Also, the treaty does not protect local dialects of (ways of speaking) the official or majority language.

To be protected a language should be spoken either by

  • the people living in a region or area of the country; or by
  • a minority in the country as a whole (this means languages such as Yiddish and Romani are covered by the treaty even though there is no "Romani region").

National official languages are not covered by the treaty, but regional official languages can be. For example, Catalan is only official within a region of Spain, so could benefit from the treaty but Irish cannot because it is an official language in Republic of Ireland, even though it is a minority language. However Irish is protected in Northern Ireland because it is not an official or national language of the United Kingdom.

France has signed the treaty, but the French constitution does not allow the government to support languages apart from French.

What the Charter does

There are two levels of protection. Every country which has signed the treaty must give all qualifying languages the lower level of protection. Countries can also decide to give some languages the higher level of protection. The higher level is a list of things countries should do. A country giving higher protection must do at least 35 of these things.

Languages protected under the Charter

The countries which have ratified the Charter and the languages for which the ratification was made are the following:

23x15px Armenia ratification: 25 January 2002

23x15px Austria ratification: 28 June 2001[1]

23x15px Bosnia and Herzegovina ratification: 21 September 2010

23x15px Croatia ratification: 5 November 1997

23x15px Cyprus ratification: 26 August 2002

23x15px Czech Republic ratification: 15 November 2006

23x15px Denmark ratification: 8 September 2000[2]

23x15px Finland ratification: 9 November 1994

23x15px Germany ratification: 16 September 1998[3]

23x15px Hungary ratification: 26 April 1995

23x15px Liechtenstein ratification: 18 November 1997

  • No regional or minority languages

23x15px Luxembourg ratification: 22 June 2005

  • No regional or minority languages[4]

23x15px Montenegro ratification: 15 February 2006

23x15px Netherlands ratification: 2 May 1996

23x15px Norway ratification: 10 November 1993[5]

23x15px Poland ratification: 12 February 2009[6]

23x15px Romania ratification 24 October 2007[7]

Part II applied to:

Part III applied to:

23x15px Serbia ratification: 15 February 2006[8][9] [10]

23x15px Slovakia ratification: 5 September 2001

23x15px Slovenia ratification: 4 October 2000

23x15px Spain ratification: 9 April 2001

23x15px Sweden ratification: 9 February 2000

23x16px  Switzerland ratification: 23 December 1997

23x15px Ukraine ratification: 19 September 2005

Ukraine does not specify languages by name, but rather ratifies on behalf of "the languages of the following ethnic minorities of Ukraine":[12] Not counted are Rusyns (Ruthenians), because Ukraine (unlike neighboring countries) denies them separate ethnic and linguistic status.

23x15px United Kingdom ratification : 1 July 2001 (effective; ratified 27 March 2001) 23x15px Isle of Man extension : 23 April 2003 (declaration dated 22 April 2003)

The Government of the United Kingdom declares [on 23 April 2003] that the Charter should extend to the Isle of Man, being a territory for whose international relations the Government of the United Kingdom is responsible.[13][14][15]

Related pages


  1. Austria has ratified the Charter for each language in respect of specific Länder
  2. Notes Verbales accompanying the Danish ratification specified that, whilst the Charter was not going to be ratified in respect of the two languages, Faroese and Greenlandic are each official in their respective territories
  3. Germany has ratified the Charter for each language in respect of specific Länder
  4. "Report of the Committee of Experts on Luxembourg, December 2008" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-01-30.
  5. "European charter for regional or minority languages". Retrieved 2015-03-01.
  6. "List of declarations made with respect to treaty No. 148".
  7. [1] Template:Webarchive
  8. Ratified as Serbia and Montenegro on December 22, 2005
  9. [2] Template:Webarchive
  10. Web page of Council of Europe, Reservations and Declarations for Treaty No.148 - European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
  11. "Aplicación de la Carta en España, Segundo ciclo de supervisión. Estrasburgo, 11 de diciembre de 2008. A.1.3.28 pag 7 ; A.2.2.5" (PDF). p. 107. Retrieved 2015-03-01.
  12. As of July 2007, Ukraine's entry on the Council of Europe site states the following Ukraine declares that the provisions of the Charter shall apply to the languages of the following ethnic minorities of Ukraine : Belarusian, Bulgarian, Gagauz, Greek, Jewish, Crimean Tatar, Moldavian, German, Polish, Russian, Romanian, Slovak and Hungarian.
  13. "Full list". Treaty Office.
  14. "Full list". Treaty Office.
  15. "Languages covered by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages" (PDF). Retrieved 21 October 2017.

Other websites

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