Politics

Europe needs minority protection system – MEP McAllister

MEP David McAllister (47) is a German politician, Chair of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee since 2017 and Vice President of the European People’s Party. TransylvaniaNOW asked him about minority rights in current and future EU member states and the EU’s approach in general to minority issues.

TransylvaniaNOW: Do you have any personal experience regarding Transylvania?

David McAllister: In spring this year, I had the honour of visiting Transylvania for the first time. My colleague Csaba Sógor (EPP) invited me to his home region. I was in Cluj (Kolozsvár) and got a first impression of this very interesting region.

TN: The European Union tends to leave ethnic minority issues to the member states involved. Are you a supporter of this approach?

D.M: About 50 million people in the European Union belong to a national minority or a minority language community. The protection of these national minorities has always been on the European Union’s agenda and, nowadays, the issue acquires even more importance with extreme nationalism and conflicts in certain parts of Europe. Our EPP Group is committed to the protection of national minorities in the EU as they are constituent entities of many of our Member States and enrich their political, cultural and social landscape. The European Union should therefore encourage Member States to exchange best practices in terms of minority protection measures. We can actually learn from each other. We have existing models. Moreover, we need a European minority protection system based on common European standards.

TN: You are quite familiar with the issues in Serbia – how do you see the situation of the ethnic Hungarian minority there?

D.M: The ethnic Hungarian minority, especially in the Vojvodina, contributes to Serbia’s cultural diversity and identity. The autonomy of this region must be preserved. Last month, the European Parliament adopted the annual report on Serbia. In this report, we welcome the Serbian action plan for the rights of national minorities and the establishment of a fund for national minorities. Consistent implementation of legislation on the protection of minorities, including the use of minority languages, representation in public administration and the judiciary as well as continued access to media and religious services in minority languages must be ensured. To promote and to protect human rights, including the rights of national minorities, is a precondition for joining the European Union.

TN: What advice could you offer from your personal example – being as much German as British – regarding the co-existence of different ethnicities?

D.M: In my opinion, a person can have multiple identities that overlap. My home is Niedersachsen, my nation is Germany being fully aware of my British roots. And our future is Europe. For good reason, the Motto of the European Union is “United in diversity”.

Author: Dénes Albert