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Respect for the rights of persons belonging to minorities is one of the values of the EU. This value is explicitly mentioned in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Unionpdf.

EU legislation and programmes contribute to addressing certain difficulties, including discrimination, which are likely to affect persons belonging to minorities.

Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of membership of a national minority.

The Commission ensures that EU countries, when implementing EU law, respect the principle of non-discrimination provided in Article 21 of the Charter.

The Commission has no general power as regards minorities, in particular it has no power over issues relating to:

  • the recognition of the status of minorities;
  • their self-determination and autonomy;
  • the regime governing the use of regional or minority languages.

EU countries retain general powers to take decisions about minorities. They must use all legal instruments to guarantee that fundamental rights are effectively protected in accordance with their constitutional order and obligations under international law.