European minorities

FUEN is the umbrella organisation of the autochthonous, national minorities and ethnic groups in Europe:


The autochthonous, national minorities / ethnic groups are the minorities that came into being as a result of developments in European history, as a result of change in borders and other historical events. The autochthonous, national minorities / ethnic groups are also the peoples of Europe who have never established a state of their own and who live as a minority in the territory of a state.
(from the FUEN Charter)

There are more than 400 European minorities in Europe. One in seven Europeans is part of an autochthonous minority or speaks a regional or minority language.

The needs and challenges of these 400 communities can be very heterogeneous. There are excellent models to achieve a balance between minorities and majorities in Europe. But there are also states that deny the existence of their autochthonous minorities.

The European minorities ask for more attention and influence in their regions, their states and on the European level.

Linguistic diversity

According to official numbers of the EU there are, apart from 24 official languages of the European Union, more than 60 regional and minority languages. Their total number of speakers is estimated at 40 million citizens. There are 90 languages in Europe; 37 of these are national languages, and 53 languages are regarded as “languages without a state”.

The EUROMOSAIC-study that was commissioned by the European Commission estimates that the critical number of speakers for survival of a language lies at 300,000 speakers.

One of the large languages without a state is Catalan, with circa 6 million speakers. Some language communities such as the Welsh, Basques, West Frisians, Bretons and some of the languages of Russia, like Bashkir and Chuvash, are above the critical threshold. Below this threshold, however, is the large majority of regional and minority languages, such as Ladin, Rhaeto-Romansh, Upper and Lower Sorbian, North Frisian and Kashubian.

According to UNESCO, half of the 6000 existing languages in the world are critically endangered


  • 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