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Expert in the spotlight in June 2012, Jan Diedrichsen

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Featured Expert / Area of focus:

Jan Diedrichsen is director of FUEN (Federal Union of European Nationalities). 

FUEN is the largest umbrella organisation of this group of European citizens, comprising each seventh citizen on the continent.

FUEN – founded more than 60 years ago in Paris – sees itself as advocate of the European minorities. But the situations of the minorities differ very much. Some minorities are strong and have many rights, other have to fight assimilation and against them vanishing from the face of the earth. 

FUEN represents the interests of the European minorities – on regional, national and especially on the European level. We work together with the European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

Face to face with Jan Diedrichsen

What is your background in the field of regional and minority languages/education/multilingualism?

I am the director of FUEN (Federal Union of European Nationalities), which is the largest umbrella organisation of the autochthonous, national minorities in Europe, with 90 member organisations in 32 countries. Amongst our members there are many smaller and smallest languages, which for a part are critically endangered. I work, especially in the political field, for the rights of the regional and minority languages. I represent our organisation at the European institutions – the EU, the Council of Europe and the OSCE. Amongst other things I represented FUEN in the Civil Society Platform for Multilingualism at the European Commission

Next to my work for FUEN I am also the elected representative of the German minority in Denmark at the government and parliament. In this context I am responsible for drafting the reports in the framework of the monitoring process for the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

What do you think is the major challenge in your field of work?

Unfortunately, the political awareness for the smaller and smallest languages in Europe, for the regional and minority languages and for linguistic and cultural diversity in general is decreasing. We see that tendency not only at the European Commission, but also in the European Parliament, not to mention the EU Member States. In times of crisis it is hard to advocate cultural and linguistic diversity. I think that it is therefore one of our greatest tasks to create a focus on the regional and minority languages for the coming EU-funding period 2014-2020 or at least to enshrine linguistic diversity as a funding priority in the next multiannual financial framework. To reach that goal a strong unified voice of all interest groups and organisations active on the European level will be required. That is why the cooperation between FUEN, NPLD and Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning is an important step.

What is one of the hottest new projects / items you are working on?

FUEN recently concluded its three-year network RML2future that was funded by the European Commission with a grant of 500 000 Euro. RML2future will be continued by FUEN as a strong network for regional and minority languages. Furthermore we are very glad that we have received a follow-up grant from the European Commission. Together with several partners we have been allowed to work for two years on a campaign to enhance the visibility of the advantages of multilingualism and the regional and minority languages in Europe. 
Furthermore FUEN will start working on the elaboration of the fundamental right to language; the launch of this undertaking will be at our 2012 annual congress in Moscow. In 2006 FUEN adopted its Charter for the autochthonous, national minorities in Europe. In the Charter we defined amongst other things 13 fundamental rights. After we have been dealing with the rights to media, education and political participation we now will start working on the fundamental right to language.

Are there any important references such as articles, links, etc. you would like to mention?

Here you find some of our latest documents:

Recommendation – Funding for Regional and Minority Languages 2014-2020 

Guidance – Promotion of Regional and Minority Languages 

Joint Statement of Cooperation between FUEN and NPLD

Charter of the autochthonous, national minorities in Europe



Do you have any questions on these topics?
Ask Jan

Featured topic?

Our focus this month lies on autochthonous and national minorities in Europe