Seminar “LANGUAGES AND EUROPEAN INTEGRATION - THE ROLE OF BORDER REGIONS”:

held on 16 September 2010 in Udine, Regione Autonoma Friuli Venezia Giulia (Italy)

 

This seminar took place on Thursday, 16th September 2010, from 9.30-14.00 in the ‘Sala del Consiglio della Provincia di Udine’, Palazzo Belgrado, Udine. Around 50 participants followed the presentations and took part in debates and discussions.

The seminar was opened by Piero Fontanini, President of the Province Udine, Giuseppe Napoli, representing the Autonomous Region Friuli Venezia Giulia, representatives of the city of Udine, Bernat Joan, Secretary of Linguistic Policy in the Regional Government of Catalunya and Martín Guillermo Ramírez, Secretary General of the Association of European Border Regions.

The introduction focused on Language Minorities and Cross-Border Cooperation, and was opened by Prof. Gugliermo Cevolin, University of Udine.

Two presentations were given in this session:

  1. European Union, States and minorities’ protection in Europe, by Prof. Giuseppe de Vergottini, University of Bologna
  2. European Integration and Border Regions, by Prof. Aureli Argemí, International Escarré Center for Ethnic Minorities and Nations (CIEMEN) (ES)

Afterwards, participants of the seminar took part in a debate and exchanged opinions and experiences.

In the noon session, 4 presentations were given by AEBR members:

  1. Die Sprachoffensive. Learning border languages in a Czech-German Euroregion, by Harald Ehm, Euregio Egrensis, Bavaria (DE)
  2. Towards a European Platform Languages and Borders, by Ruud Halink, Talenakademie (NL)
  3. Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, a Region with Strong Languages Diversity, by William Cisilino, Autonomous Region Friuli Venezia Giulia
  4. Cross-Border Cooperation Programme Italy-Slovenia, by Laura Comelli, Autonomous Regions Friuli Venezia Giulia

After a lively debate, Giuseppe Napoli, closed the meeting, summarising the main results. It was highlighted the role of active language learning across the border as a main factor to overcome obstacles for cross-border cooperation. There are many complex examples in Europe, but probably Friuli is one of the most genuine to illustrate the need to be aware of these circumstances, protecting minority languages and promoting its use in civil services, cultural activities and the media. In FVG Italian, Friulian, Slovenian and German are spoken.

Many other practices in most European border areas and interregional experiences like “LAB 2006-2009” show the particular role of languages in CBC, with different approaches per region and language. This has move the AEBR and strategic partners like the Talenakademie (NL) to propose European institutions and border regions the setting up of a Platform Languages and Borders leading to a community of practice” to:

  • Disseminate good practices
  • Organize Workshops on “hot” topics
  • Prepare study visits
  • Propose new projects
  • Advice interest groupings

To the end, the promoters of this Platform had already made lobby at the EU Parliament and the EU Commission in order to gain resources to:

  • Promote languages in border areas (by devoting a particular entry in the EU Budget to this purpose).
  • Consider neighbouring languages as priority in the Life-Long Learning Strategy for 2011.
  • Activate the Platform in the Internet.
  • Keep regular exchange with DG Education and Culture
  • In very few years, a European Border Languages’ Year should be declared.

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