Presidium 1996
Skadegaard Johannsen
Yen 25 years
Versailles 1949
Apenrade 1979
Versailles 1989

History of FUEN

FUEN was founded in the Palais de Chaillot in Paris on 20 November 1949.

In the early years this young, all-European organisation was dominated by regionalists. Everywhere in Europe border posts were symbolically torn down. With national-socialism the states had failed – Europe needed a new order. The regions of Europe had to be strengthened.

The first “Congress of Nationalities” was attended by around 200 people. The participants felt closely connected to the ideas behind the Council of Europe, which was established in 1949 as well.

Very soon, it became clear that the regionalists and the people representing the national minorities and language minorities had different interests and pursued different goals. Over the years, FUEN has lived on, as an umbrella organisation for the autochthonous, national minorities and ethnic groups in Europe.

For a long time FUEN has been an organisation dominated by Western Europe, which only very infrequently had contacts with Central and Eastern Europe.

That changed at once with the historical changes in 1989 / 1990. The national minorities in Central and Eastern Europe had the opportunity to establish organisations and claimed their rights. In these years FUEN incorporated many new member organisations and developed into an all-European organisation.

At the beginning of the nineties FUEN strongly advocated for sustainable and comprehensive minority protection in Europe – e.g. with the Cottbus Declarations of FUEN, which had a decisive influence on the legal documents of the Council of Europe that are currently in force, namely the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

The main activity of the year, as it has been for over 65 years, is the annual FUEN-congress. But meanwhile meetings of the working groups of the German, Slavic and Turkic minorities in FUEN have been added. And an EU-funded network and campaign for linguistic diversity, the Dialogue Forum with the European Parliament and the football championship for the European minorities are now also among the diverse activities of the largest umbrella organisation of the autochthonous minorities in Europe.

In 2006 the Charter for the autochthonous, national minorities in Europe was unanimously adopted. It is the key document of FUEN with 13 fundamental rights enshrined in it.

In 2009 the 60 year jubilee of FUEN was celebrated in the European Parliament and in the premises of the Committee of the Regions.

In 2014 the 65 year jubilee of FUEN was celebrated in Flensburg, Germany.

Hans Heinrich Hansen - Jubilee Address 2014 - 65 Years of FUEN

Hans Heinrich Hansen – Jubilee Address 2009 - 60 Years of FUEN

Friedrik Paulsen – Jubilee Address 1989 - 40 Years of FUEN (in German only)

Overview of FUEN-Presidents

Overview of FUEN-Congresses

59th FUEN Congress - 65 Years of FUEN

Jubilee Brochure - 60 Years of FUEN


On the occasion of the 50th jubilee of FUEN in 1999, the historian Jørgen Kühl published a history of FUEN. This publication is available at the FUEN-secretariat.


  • Political Participation
  • Fundamental Rights
  • Linguistic Diversity
  • Solidarity with the Roma
  • European Citizens' Initiative
  • European Network
  • Forum of the European Minorities / House of Minorities


More photos at Flickr