Languages of Europe
Decisions on supporting regional and minority languages need to be based on a full understanding of their status and the challenges they face. The European Commission therefore initiated a comprehensive study - “Euromosaic” - of minority language groups in the European Union.
The Euromosaic study dates back to 1992, when the Commission decided to examine the potential for expanding the use of regional and minority languages, and the barriers they face in this respect.
The study identified the social and institutional variables that provide the context for the continuing use of a language, and which create the conditions for expanding its use. The main variables influencing this process were found to be family, education and community, along with the institutional and legal frameworks in which languages are used. The motivating forces involved language “prestige” or the value of a language for social mobility and cultural reproduction.
The second main task of this study was to examine the condition of different languages within this framework. The team behind the study compiled more than 50 reports on regional and minority languages, assessing the situation and condition of each language.
A further study, using the same framework, was completed following the 1995 enlargement of the EU, when Austria, Finland and Sweden joined as Member States.
This was followed in September 2004 by an additional study, when Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia acceded to the EU. The team of experts and scientists who carried out the study also drafted a comparative summary a comparative summary providing a general overview of the situation in the Member States that acceded in 2004 and a comparison with the fifteen pre-enlargement Member States.
The full range of Euromosaic reports provides a valuable overview of the status of regional and minority languages in the EU.
An overview report based on the study was published by the Commission in 1996 under the title “Euromosaic: The production and reproduction of the minority language groups in the European Union”. It is available from the Office for Official Publications of the European Communities (ISBN 92-827-5512-6).
Further information can also be found on the Euromosaic website.