Back European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages: the Netherlands should strengthen the use of Frisian, Limburgish and Low Saxon, and support Romanes and Yiddish

European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages: the Netherlands should strengthen the use of Frisian, Limburgish and Low Saxon, and support Romanes and Yiddish

Strasbourg, 08.02.2023 – The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages has published today its seventh report on the Netherlands, highlighting how the use of Frisian, Limburgish, Low Saxon, Romanes and Yiddish should be strengthened. The report, which welcomes the on-going discussions on the extension of the Charter to Papiamento/u, calls for an explicit reference to ‘language’ in Dutch equal treatment laws.

The report stresses the importance of guaranteeing the teaching in/of regional and minority languages in the school curriculum. Several shortcomings concerning teaching in Frisian are noted, especially at primary school level. The report also points out that the teaching in/of Low Saxon and Limburgish is not ensured at any level of compulsory education. Financial support is given to schools teaching Yiddish.

Although Frisian can be used in judicial proceedings, there are difficulties regarding interpretation in criminal proceedings that must be addressed without further delay.

Frisian local and provincial authorities strive to enhance the visibility of Frisian by allowing speakers to use the language before the administrative authorities for public services. The official adoption and use of bilingual place and street names should be further improved.

Frisian is present on radio, television, and occasionally in regional newspapers and magazines. Although several initiatives have been launched to encourage greater use of Limburgish and Low Saxon in the media, their use should be regulated through an amendment to the 2008 Media Act. Editorials are rarely published in Limburgish and Low Saxon in written media and there are no media published in Yiddish or Romanes.

There are many cultural initiatives in languages covered by the Charter and across the Netherlands. Several prominent Frisian cultural institutions are co-funded by the provincial authorities and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The Province of Fryslân also supports a variety of innovative projects promoting the Frisian culture and language. These good practises should be continued and should not be disproportionately affected by planned financial cuts. More financial support should also be given by the national and provincial authorities to cultural programmes and activities promoting Limburgish culture and traditions. Low Saxon is used to a large extent in cultural life, music, and song festivals with the support of regional and national funding. Limburgish and Low Saxon also form part of private research and study programmes on artificial intelligence, and several applications have been developed to facilitate their use in public and private life.

While several initiatives aim at promoting the use of Frisian in economic and social life, further steps should be taken to strengthen its use in healthcare.

Central government funds for international cultural policy are used to promote and support international projects related to Frisian, Limburgish and Low Saxon. However, Yiddish and Romanes do not benefit from such support.

The seventh evaluation report of the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is based on the information provided by governmental and non-governmental sources, including that obtained during its visit to the Netherlands in June / July 2022.

The evaluation report has been published together with comments from the authorities. A summary of the evaluation report is also available in Dutch.

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Directorate of Anti-Discrimination
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