...due to the freedom of movement within the union of its citizens, there now exists three separate classifications of minorities within the states of the European Union: ethnic minority, internal migrant and immigrant. The EU has had varying levels of apathy towards its responsibility to any of these groups, leaving much of the care for them in the hands of the state.
While unique, they share many similar characteristics and issues for the state. As White notes: “it is accepted in almost every immigration country that the existence of immigrant or ethnic minority populations necessitates consideration of their particular needs in various spheres of service provision such as education, welfare, health and housing”. In fact the term minority itself can be used to describe any of the three types of groups.
This ambiguity is seen in the wording of the European Convention on Human Rights which describes a minority as “a group inferior in number to the rest of the population and whose members share in their will to hold on to their culture, traditions, religion, or language” What this convention illustrates is that the classification of what it is and what is not a minority is not for the minority to decide. It is the majority group in the state that will decide who belongs and who does not.
It was not until the decision to expand the EU by 10 East European members by 2004 that the West Europeans became concerned about minority rights within the EU. There was an expectation that with the opening of the democratic process and ending of totalitarian rule in Eastern Europe there would be a flood of ethnic violence similar to what was seen in Yugoslavia. As a result of these concerns, the EU for the first time made protections of minorities a part of the accession process.
Monday, March 1, 2010
The previous post was more inspired by this paper on the implications of intra-EU migration, rather than any unconcious attempt to goad Catalan nationalists.