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Joining Forces or Reinventing the Wheel? The EU and the Protection of National Minorities

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This article explores a model of minority protection that the European Union (EU) could adopt. The discussion first assesses the possibility for the EU to join forces with the Council of Europe through internalising, or even acceding to, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM). This would provide numerous benefits, such as provision of consistent benchmarks of minority protection when applied to candidate States in the accession process to the EU, availability of mechanisms to resolve remaining issues relating to minorities within the EU post-accession and elimination of double standards between 'new' and 'old' Member States. Yet these developments are politically sensitive and prone to create procedural difficulties. The alternative option of an EU regime of minority protection is discussed next, focusing on the impact EU law may have on minority rights in Member States. Based on this analysis, the article concludes that an attempt by the EU to develop a coherent system of minority protection may result in reinventing the wheel. Therefore, it is suggested that the EU may be better placed to encourage candidate countries and Member States' implementation of the FCNM.

Affiliations: 1: PhD candidate, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, UK

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