Editors’ note: Following up on our previous blog entry by Farhan Patel, here is another angle on France’s long-standing battle for the ratification of The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
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Twenty-five of the 47 Council of Europe members have already ratified the ECRML, meaning that they have agreed to take on the responsibility of protecting and promoting the regional and minority language(s) in their individual states. Nations such as Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom – arguably three of the most powerful and influential nations in Europe – have already ratified the Charter, along with other notable countries like Hungary, Poland and Netherlands (Barbière 2014). France, however, one of the founding nations of the European Union, remains yet to have ratified it.
the European Union makes it seem unconventional that the European state is against the ratification of the ERCML. Keep in mind that this is a country that claimed, “Ce qui n'est pas clair n'est pas français” –
France has only signed 39 of the 98 measures outlined in the Charter. Unless France decides to agree to more of the terms of the text then the ECRML will not provide the same protection for regional and minority languages that it does in other countries – such as Spain – that have ratified a much greater amount of the possible provisions proposed by the Charter (Argemí 2014). Even closer to the point, the French Culture Minister, Aurélie Filippetti claims that ratifying the Charter “will change little [for regional and minority languages] since most of the 39 measures are already possible with current French laws” (Argemí 2014).
Will the ratification of the Charter simply act as a “superficial makeover” (A Milestone 2014)?
In an interview with Filippeti, the French Cuture Minister agrees that “la Charte a, pour l'essentiel, une valeur symbolique. Elle marque la volonté de la France de protéger son patrimoine culturel” [The Charter in and of itself, has a symbolic meaning : it symbolizes France’s willingness to protect its cultural heritage] (Feltin-Palas 2014).