Italy ratifies the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages

The Council of Ministers says that the decision opens the door to the “possibility of tuition” in twelve languages and their use before some courts · Rome signed the Charter twelve years ago · Organizations in Piedmont criticize the move since Italy does not recognize Piedmontese

The Council of Ministers of the Italian government has ratified the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages (ECRML), an instrument by the Council of Europe for the protection of minorised languages in Europe. According to the Council of Minister's website, the ratification has been done to protect twelve languages: Catalan, Occitan, Albanian, German, Greek, Slovene, Croatian, French, Francoprovençal, Friulian, Ladin and Sardinian.

Neither the Italian government nor the Council of Europe have explained which levels of protection will be applied to each one of those languages. Still, the Council of Ministers has said that "among other things" it is foreseen "the possibility of tuition [of those languages] in schools, their use at the courts of the areas of jurisdiction, the dissemination of cultural programmes and [the dissemination of those languages] through the key media".

But some of those legal provisions were already included in the law 482 of the Parliament of Italy of 1999. Italian legislators then approved the introduction of the very same twelve languages into the school system (including a partial use as vehicular languages).

Italy signed the ECRML in 2000. Since then, the Italian government had not ratified it.

Critical stance in Piedmont

The approval of the Charter is yet another legal basis for the protection of minorised languages (arguably stronger in this case because of Italy's commitment before Europe). But the decision has been contested in Piedmont, where grassroots organizations are fighting for the official recognition of the Piedmontese language. The Italian government has not ratified the Charter for Piedmontese, and this has led Gioventura Piemontèisa to accuse Rome of trying to "euthanize" the Piedmontese people.

The Italian Constitutional Court overturned in 2010 a regional law that sought to protect Piedmontese. The judges considered that Piedmontese "is a dialect" and thus cannot be protected in a similar way to Occitan, Francoprovençal or German, languages that are also spoken in Piedmont.

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