Is the Treaty of Lisbon Neutral Towards Language Minorities in the European Union?

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 10:00
Location: Hörsaal 5A G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Eduardo FAINGOLD, University of Tulsa, USA
This paper analyzes the Treaty of Lisbon for language defining the linguistic obligations of the EU and the language rights of its citizens. The Treaty fails to address the rights of minority language speakers in the EU, including, most perilously, the rights of minorities who are seeking to secede from their own countries (Catalonia, Scotland) and minorities who use violence in their quest for political rights (Basque Country, Corsica). The paper calls for a more pluralistic approach to language legislation (Romaine 2013) and for de jure language rights for speakers of minority languages in the EU, especially for speakers of official minority languages, such as Catalan, Basque, and Galician in Spain, Scottish Gaelic and Welsh in the UK, and others (Faingold 2007). The reason to single out minority languages that enjoy some degree of official recognition in their own countries is that conflict between these languages and the majority language may exacerbate existing claims of self-determination or secession in the EU. Also, new language legislation could recognize the rights of some languages with territorial status but official without status in their own countries, e.g. Breton, Corsican, Occitan, and Sardinian. Explicit language legislation can help to solve conflicts between speakers of majority and minority languages by defining legally the status and use of such languages (Faingold 2004).


Faingold, E. D. 2004. Language rights and language justice in the constitutions of the world. Language Problems and Language Planning 28: 11-24.

Faingold, E. D. 2007. Language rights in the 2004 draft of the constitution of the European Union. Language Problems and Language Planning 31: 25-36.

Romaine, S. 2013. Politics and policies of promoting multilingualism in the European Union. Language Policy 12: 115 – 137.