The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is the most important legal instrument for protecting and promoting minority languages in Europe since they are considered a threatened European cultural heritage. Ever since this international agreement was adopted in 1992, 25 states in the Council of Europe have ratified it and have undertaken the responsibilities and obligations that this commitment entails.
The follow-up that is done to check whether or not each State is complying with the agreement in the ratification document is a complex process that concludes with the reports by the Committee of Experts (COMEX). These reports are public and can be accessed on the Council of Europe’s website.
To facilitate access to the information relating to each State, with the languages and the numerous language groups that are protected by the Charter, both in Part II (Article 7) and in Part III (Articles 8 through 14), we present the CELMI (Carta Europea para as Linguas Rexionais ou MInoritarias – European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages), a database in which we list COMEX’s conclusions on all of the published reports. By using CELMI one can conduct searches and analyses as well as make comparisons between languages, states, articles or language groups and do follow-up on their development since the Charter first went into effect in 1998.
On each of the commitments a State undertakes, COMEX may reach one of the following four conclusions: “fulfilled,” “partly fulfilled,” “formally fulfilled” or “not fulfilled.” For various reasons at times COMEX finds it impossible to assign one of these four categories and its final decision is “no conclusion.”
Following the strategy that COMEX adopted in 2017, we use three graphic markers to indicate the changes: an up arrow (↗) when favorable progress is demonstrated, a down arrow (↙) when a State has slipped backwards, and an equals sign (=) when there are no changes. These markers always refer to a comparison between the most recent report and its predecessor, the immediate previous report. Here are some clarifying examples from Scotch-Gaelic in the United Kingdom that compare the 5th Report (2020) to the 4th Report (2014):
- Article 10.1.c: In the 5th Report COMEX’s conclusion was “partly fulfilled” with an up arrow (↗) since in the 4th Report the decision made was “no conclusion.” We therefore indicate that progress was made.
- Article 12.1.e: In the 5th Report COMEX’s conclusion was “fulfilled” with an up arrow (↗) since in the 4th Report the decision made was “partly fulfilled.” We therefore indicate that progress was made.
- Article 11.1.b.ii: In the 5th Report COMEX’s conclusion was “not fulfilled” with a down arrow (↙) since in the 4th Report the decision made was “fulfilled.” We therefore indicate that the State did not make progress but instead slid backwards.
- Article 8.1.b.i: In the 5th Report COMEX’s conclusion was “partly fulfilled” with an equals sign (=) since in both the 5th and 4th Reports the decision made did not change. We therefore indicate that there was no change between the two reports.
The percentage that appears next to each state, language or article needs to be interpreted as a figure that takes into account the differences between the five possible findings used by COMEX taken as a whole vis-à-vis the most recent previous report and based on the figures that appear in the table that appears below. For example, in comparing all of the findings between the 2018 and 2012 reports on Austria, a 1% overall improvement (↗) was found to have been made.
It should be noted that in a few exceptional cases what the table indicates is not what is indicated in the COMEX report. These exceptions are marked in the “notes” section.
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