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Minority language communities throughout Europe can now avail of millions of Euros in funding, following the decision of the European Commission to invite language groups to apply for grants. 2.5 million Euros is being made available by the Commission’s department with responsibility for Education and Culture for projects which involve co-operation between different minority language communities. Grants of between 50,000 Euro and 150,000 Euro will be provided for successful projects, which could involve language resources such as dictionaries, the development of teaching skills or campaigns to promote languages.
Projects involving the development of minority languages in economic life, and their presence in the media and in cultural events, will also be considered. No commercial companies or private individuals can apply for the funding; the Commission says that a clear ‘European dimension’ is necessary for every project, although no ‘formal partnership’ is required between the various players. The deadline for the submission of applications is November 6, 2000. The Commission’s decision to release the 2.5 million Euro ends months of confusion about the legal status of the funding. The absence of a legal basis for minority language funding at European Union level has led to considerable uncertainty about the future availability of such grants.
Although the Education and Culture Commissioner, Viviane Reding, has claimed on several occasions that she is doing her best to overcome such legal difficulties, a solution remains elusive.
Another opportunity for funding of minority language projects, albeit on a once-off basis, has recently been announced by the Commission. 4.35 million Euro is being made available under the European Year of Languages programme, under which the Commission expects to be able to co-fund up to 150 separate projects. The European Year of Languages will cover all eleven official EU languages, as well as Irish and Luxembourgish. However, other regional or minority languages nominated by individual states can also be eligible under the programme. Innovative ways of learning languages, lifelong learning and academic studies about languages are among the categories of projects which could be offered funding under the Year of Languages programme, which will be launched at the beginning of 2001.