Minority SafePack, an initiative urging European Union protection for indigenous national minorities in the bloc, has opened a new chapter in the history of European integration and is also relevant in European domestic politics, Tibor Navracsics, the head of the Europe Strategy Research Institute, told an online conference on Friday.
Up until now, European integration has been centred on economic unity, the internal market and the various related policies, Navracsics, a former European commissioner, said. All other political decisions had been secondary, he said.
But thanks to a successful campaign, Minority SafePack has become relevant to European domestic politics and “could change a great many things”, Navracsics said. “Not just in the European Parliament and the Council of the EU but also within the European Commission itself.”
European institutions must be confronted with the issues the initiative deals with and they have to come up with some kind of an answer, Navracsics said.
Lorant Vincze, the chairman of the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN), which coordinated the initiative, said that nearly a decade after its initial launch, Minority SafePack could be considered a “success story”.
Vincze said FUEN’s reasoning behind the initiative was that it had felt the protection of minorities was an unresolved issue. “The issue of Hungarian minorities has been unresolved for a century,” Vincze said. “Hungarians in Transylvania today are having to protect their identity when they should be busy developing and modernising their society. The Hungarian community in Transylvania is right to pursue progress, but for that it needs its minority rights to be safe.”
He said Europe should formulate standards that protect the rights of all minorities on the continent.
No European or international organisation today has the power or the will to influence the minority policies of Europe’s countries, Vincze said, criticising the EU’s institutional system for failing to provide protection for minorities.
But Minority SafePack has helped bring the issue before Europe’s decision-makers, he said, noting that FUEN presented its related policy proposals to the European Parliament last month. Vincze also noted that the EP will hold a debate on minority protection in December, after which it will pass a resolution. The EC will then have until mid-January to decide whether to initiate legislation in connection with the issue, he added.
The Minority SafePack signature drive initiated by Romania’s ethnic Hungarian RMDSZ party and coordinated by FUEN was launched in April 2017. A total of 1,128,385 signatures were certified across the 28 EU member states over the year-long campaign. The EC registered the signatures in January this year.