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European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
CET 148
Member states that have signed and ratified in dark green, those that have signed but not ratified in light green, those that have neither signed nor ratified in white, non-member states of the Council of Europe in grey. Source: the list of signatories at the Council of Europe website.
Signed5 November 1992
Effective1 March 1998
ConditionRatification by 5 States
DepositarySecretary General of the Council of Europe
LanguagesEnglish and French
Full text
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages at Wikisource

The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) is a European treaty (CETS 148) adopted in 1992 under the auspices of the Council of Europe to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages in Europe. However, the charter does not provide any criterion or definition for an idiom to be a minority or a regional language, and the classification stays in the hands of the national state.[1]

The preparation for the charter was undertaken by the predecessor to the current Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe because involvement of local and regional government was essential. The actual charter was written in the Parliamentary Assembly based on the Congress' Recommendations. It only applies to languages traditionally used by the nationals of the State Parties (thus excluding languages used by recent immigrants from other states, see immigrant languages), which significantly differ from the majority or official language (thus excluding what the state party wishes to consider as mere local dialects of the official or majority language)[2] and that either have a territorial basis (and are therefore traditionally spoken by populations of regions or areas within the State) or are used by linguistic minorities within the State as a whole (thereby including such languages as Yiddish, Romani and Lemko, which are used over a wide geographic area).

Some states, such as Ukraine and Sweden, have tied the status of minority language to the recognized national minorities, which are defined by ethnic, cultural and/or religious criteria, thereby circumventing the Charter's notion of linguistic minority.[3]

Languages that are official within regions, provinces or federal units within a State (for example Catalan in Spain) are not classified as official languages of the State and may therefore benefit from the Charter. On the other hand, Ireland has not been able to sign the Charter on behalf of the Irish language (although a minority language) as it is defined as the first official language of the state. The United Kingdom has ratified the Charter in respect to (among other languages) Welsh in Wales, Scots and Gaelic in Scotland, and Irish in Northern Ireland. France, although a signatory, has been constitutionally blocked from ratifying the Charter in respect to the languages of France.

The charter provides many actions state parties can take to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages. There are two levels of protection—all signatories must apply the lower level of protection to qualifying languages. Signatories may further declare that a qualifying language or languages will benefit from the higher level of protection, which lists a range of actions from which states must agree to undertake at least 35.


Countries can ratify the charter in respect of its minority languages based on Part II or Part III of the charter, which contain varying principles. Countries can treat languages differently under the charter, for example, in the United Kingdom, the Welsh language is ratified under the general Part II principles as well as the more specific Part III commitments, while the Cornish language is ratified only under Part II.

Part II

Part II of the Charter details eight main principles and objectives upon which States must base their policies and legislation. They are seen as a framework for the preservation of the languages concerned.[4]

Part III

Part III details comprehensive rules, across a number of sectors, by which states agree to abide. Each language to which Part III of the Charter is applied must be named specifically by the government. States must select at least thirty-five of the undertakings in respect to each language. Many provisions contain several options, of varying degrees of stringency, one of which has to be chosen "according to the situation of each language". The areas from which these specific undertakings must be chosen are as follows:[4]

Languages protected under the Charter

Countries that have ratified the Charter, and languages for which the ratification was made[5]

ratification: 25 January 2002[6]


ratification: 28 June 2001[6]

 Bosnia and Herzegovina

ratification: 21 September 2010[6]


ratification: 5 November 1997[6]


ratification: 26 August 2002[6]

 Czech Republic

ratification: 15 November 2006[6]


ratification: 8 September 2000[6]


ratification: 9 November 1994[8]


ratification: 16 September 1998[6]


ratification: 26 April 1995[6]


ratification: 18 November 1997[6]

  • No regional or minority languages

ratification: 22 June 2005[6]

  • No regional or minority languages[9]

ratification: 15 February 2006[6]


ratification: 2 May 1996[6]


ratification: 10 November 1993[6]


ratification: 12 February 2009[6]


ratification 29 January 2008[6]


ratification: 15 February 2006[6]


ratification: 5 September 2001[11]


ratification: 4 October 2000[6]


ratification: 9 April 2001[6]


ratification: 9 February 2000[6]


ratification: 23 December 1997[6]


ratification: 19 September 2005[6]

Ukraine does not specify languages by name, but rather ratifies on behalf of "the languages of the following ethnic minorities of Ukraine[13]

 United Kingdom

ratification : 27 March 2001.[6]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Gabrielle Bernoville, Europe's forgotten words. The case of the European Regional and minority languages Archived 2021-06-15 at the Wayback Machine, La Regionisto,
  2. ^ a b c d Kordić, Snježana (2024). "Ideology Against Language: The Current Situation in South Slavic Countries" (PDF). In Nomachi, Motoki; Kamusella, Tomasz (eds.). Languages and Nationalism Instead of Empires. Routledge Histories of Central and Eastern Europe. London: Routledge. pp. 167–179. doi:10.4324/9781003034025-11. ISBN 978-0-367-47191-0. OCLC 1390118985. S2CID 259576119. SSRN 4680766. (COBISS.RS 125229577). COBISS 171014403. Archived from the original on 2024-01-10. Retrieved 2024-01-16. p. 173, 169: In Croatia and Serbia, segregation takes place in the name of minority language rights, ignoring that the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages gives a clear definition of a minority language that excludes the term 'minority language' in this case. [...] although the Charter reads that a minority language must be different from the official language and must not be a dialect of the official language, and although the standard language of Bosniaks, Croats, Montenegrins and Serbs is based on the same dialect called Shtokavian, and it is clear that according to the Charter it cannot be regarded as several minority languages.
  3. ^ Hult, F.M. (2004). Planning for multilingualism and minority language rights in Sweden. Language Policy, 3(2), 181-201.
  4. ^ a b "The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is the European convention for the protection and promotion of languages used by traditional minorities". European Charter for Regional
    or Minority Languages
  5. ^ "States Parties to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and their regional or minority languages (listed by language on p.6)". Council of Europe. 1 November 2022. Retrieved 13 December 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w "Chart of signatures and ratifications of Treaty 148". Council of Europe. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  7. ^ "Czechia: Protection of German extended under the Charter - European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages". Council of Europe. 2024. Archived from the original on 2 March 2024. Retrieved 2 March 2024.
  8. ^ "Reservations and Declarations for Treaty No.148 - European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ETS No. 148)". Council of Europe. Archived from the original on 22 Mar 2024.
  9. ^ "Report of the Committee of Experts on Luxembourg, December 2008" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-01-30.
  10. ^ Insider, Tanya Deen for the Bonaire (30 January 2024). "Papiamentu on Bonaire is Officially Recognized Under European Charter". InfoBonaire. Retrieved 31 January 2024.
  11. ^ "Full list".
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ As of July 2007, Ukraine's entry on the Council of Europe site Archived 2012-05-22 at the Wayback Machine 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.
  14. ^ "Full list". Treaty Office.
  15. ^ "Full list". Treaty Office.