“We need to focus more on minority issues, because the way we treat them shows how much we respect each other in our society” – said the European Commission’s first vice president Frans Timmermans, at the meeting of the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) on Wednesday.
The EU Commissioner responsible for Better Regulation, Interinstitutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights stated his position regarding traditional national minorities as a response to the question of RMDSZ MEP Csaba Sógor.
The Transylvanian politician stressed, that in the past five years the activity of the Commission did not live up to the expectations of national minorities “The new provisions set out in the treaties of the European Union and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights would lead to practical EU measures ensuring they benefit of the same equal treatment as their co-nationals. Yet, these people are still treated like second class citizens and encounter obstacles in fields such as justice, healthcare and education, while in many cases their basic rights, such as the right to own property are still being crudely infringed upon” – said the MEP.
Csaba Sógor asked Frans Timmermans about his views on the possibility to apply a set of criteria for Member States, similar to the Copenhagen ones for pre-accession countries. In the opinion of the RMDSZ politician this would make sure that these citizens, overlooked until now by the EU, could enjoy their rights guaranteed by the treaties of the European Union.
The EU Comissioner stated that he had already dealt with these issues within the European Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and that the EU needs to pay special attention to these groups. Timmermans also stressed that in rule of law issues he would use every legal tool available to him in order to initiate a dialogue or take legal action in specific cases within the Member States, where there is a need for such actions.