Our language communities benefit from Europe

An open letter – Our language communities benefit from our European Union membership


European LanguagesWe, as representatives of the indigenous lesser-used languages in Britain and Ireland under the jurisdiction of the UK Government, release this statement in the sense of shared kinship and in the belief that European Union membership benefits our communities and contributes towards the vitality of our languages.

We represent many of the minoritised commonwealth of these islands, including Kernewek, Gàidhlig, Gaeilge, Cymraeg, and Scots. These islands have comprised, since time immemorial, diverse language communities. We, as equal citizens of these islands, are often overlooked by Government policy makers and have been so far in the ‘Brexit’ debate, despite harbouring a cultural wealth that is only found in these islands.

Our languages are one of the bedrocks of the varied cultures of these islands. Encapsulating our collective experience, social interactions, humour and world view, these languages are used, as are other modern languages of Europe, in education, business, community life and beyond.

Our indigenous languages, like other endangered world languages, require support and protection enshrined as rights. They are recognised under the Council of Europe’s European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) and the Framework Convention for National Minorities (FCNM). The European Union Lisbon Treaty and the attached Charter of Fundamental Rights means that respect for linguistic and cultural diversity and the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of language is European Union primary law.

Many of us are also members of the European Language Equality Network (ELEN), which operates across the Continent to ensure that language rights become an inalienable human right within the European Union.

Following recent directives on other equality matters, we are making the case for a Language Equality Directive and for infringement proceedings to be opened in cases of anti-regional language discrimination.

If our countries left the European Union, we would be excluded from the rights shared by European citizens.

We would furthermore be at the mercy of governments that have shown neither the interest nor the desire to protect and promote the rights of speakers of our nations and regions’ languages, and have throughout much of our shared history conducted aggressive language policies designed to eradicate our languages.

Neither would we have access to European language project funding, which would be detrimental to non-governmental and educational bodies. Leaving would impede our young people’s prospects and employability; European funding has offered vital investment for many of our communities’ economies. The EU has been, and can be further still, a great bastion of hope for the minoritised languages of our countries.

At no point under the current ‘Brexit’ debate has there been any informed deliberation concerning the future of the lesser used indigenous languages of these islands. We fear that Brexit would lead to an insecure future for our communities, as the UK Government’s recent abolition of funding for the Cornish language demonstrates. Being a part of a heterogeneous European Union with its robust congregation of minority and majority cultures allows for a better understanding and protection of our own languages.

The indirect effect of Brexit on our languages is potentially disastrous. The continued sustainability and viability of our languages is closely linked to the economic health of the communities which speak these languages. Without a flourishing economy which provides gainful employment to those living in autochthonous minority language communities, these communities see a loss of speakers due to outmigration as people leave to find work and affordable housing. This trend can be seen in Wales, which loses thousands of Welsh speakers a year due to out-migration. Similar patterns are seen in the Irish-speaking areas of Ireland and Gaelic-speaking areas of Scotland.

Several minority language speaking areas in the UK’s jurisdiction have received significant investment of European Union structural funds which has been partly directed to develop the economy of such areas. For the period 2014-2020 these include PEACE IV in the North of Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland, the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Growth Programme, the West Wales and the Valleys and East Wales programmes in Wales and funding for the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. European Union funding for areas such as universities (Horizon 2020, Erasmus+) and agriculture (EAFRD) also contribute to the economy of minority language speaking regions and therefore indirectly benefit the survival of these languages. There is no indication that our nations would receive similar levels of investment from the UK Government.

We, as representatives of indigenous lesser-used language communities in these islands, therefore conclude that in order to ensure the safety and prosperity of our languages and their communities we must remain within the European Union, contribute towards its further development in the spirit of the European Union as a human rights project, as a guarantor of peace, social justice, cooperation, and equal opportunity for the peoples of our continent, and for a Europe united in diversity.


Davyth Hicks, European Language Equality Network
Garry Nicholas, Llywydd y Llys, Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru (National Eisteddfod)
Dòmhnall MacNèill, Comunn na Gàidhlig (The Scots Gaelic Society)
Loveday Jenkin, Kowethas An Yeth Kernewek (The Cornish Language Society)
Maureen Pierce, Kesva An Taves Kernewek (The Cornish Language Board)
Michael Hance, Scots Language Society
Dr Gwenllian Lansdown Davies, Mudiad Meithrin
Dr Hywel Glyn Lewis, Chairman, Education Society of the European Regions (Wales)
Hanna Medi Merrigan, Llywydd UMCA (Aberystwyth Welsh Students Union) President
Liam Ó Flannagáin, Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta (Council of Irish-medium education)
Jamie Bevan, Cadeirydd, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg


Lyther ygor – Agan kemenethow yeth a gyv prow dhyworth agan eseleth a’n UE
Avel kanasow a’n yethow genesik yn Breten hag Iwerdhon yn-dann arlottes Governans an RU, ni a dhyllo an derivas ma yn-dann omglewans a golm goos kuntellek hag ow krysi eseleth an Unyans Europek dhe ri prow dh’agan kemenethow ha dhe gevri dhe vewder agan yethow.

Ni a represent lies kemeneth vinorytahes a’n enesow ma, y’ga mysk Kernewek, Albanek, Iwerdhonek, Kembrek ha Skots. An enesow ma re synsas ynna, dres an osow, kemenethow yeth divers. Avel burjysi ekwal a’n enesow ma, nyns on merkys treweythyow gans tus a wra polisi y’n Governans, hag yndella re beu bys lemmyn y’n dhadhel Brexit yn despit dhe witha golusogneth wonisogethek nag yw kevys marnas y’n enesow ma.

Onan a selveyn a wonisogethow divers an enesow ma yw agan yethow. Ow synsi ynna agan prevyans kuntellek, ynterweythresow socyal, hwarthuster ha gwel a’n bys, devnydhys yw an yethow ma, kepar dell yw yethow arnowydh erel Europa, yn adhyskans, negys, an bewnans kemenethek ha dres henna.

Yma edhom dh’agan yethow genesik, kepar ha dhe yethow erel a’n bys, a skoodhyans ha difresyans avel gwiryow herwydh an lagha. Aswonys yns yn Chartour Europek Yethow Ranndiryel po Minoryta an Konsel a Europ (CEYRM) ha’n Kuntelles Framweyth rag Minorytys Kenedhlek (KFMK). Kevambos Lisbon an Unyans Europek, ha’n Chartour a Wiryon Selvenek yw stegys dhodho, a styr bos bri a dhiversita yethel ha gonisogethel, ha difen a faverans selys war yeth, lagha gwredhek an Unyans Europek. Lies ahanan yw eseli ynwedh a’n Rosweyth Parder Yeth Europek (RPYE), a ober dres an brastir rag surhe gwiryow yeth dhe vos ha bos gwir denel y’n Unyans Europek na yll bos kemerys dhe-ves. Ow sewya gorhemynnow a-dhiwedhes a-dro dhe vateryow erel a ekwalder, ni a gomend an kas rag Gorhemmyn Ekwalder Yeth ha rag gweythresow defolans dhe vos ygerys yn kasys a faverans yeth yw gorth-ranndiryel.

Mar tibartha agan broyow dhyworth an Unyans Europek ni a via eskeys dhyworth an gwiryon kevrennys gans burjysi europek. Ha pella, ni a via yn-dann vaystri governansow na dhiskwedhas na bern yn na hwans a witha hag avonsya gwiryow kowsowryon yethow agan kenedhlow ha ranndiryow, ha, dres meur a’gan istori kevrynnys, re gollenwis polisiow yeth freudhek yw desinys dhe dhiwreydhya agan yethow. Ha ny allsen drehedhes arghasans europek rag ragdresow yeth, hag a via damajus dhe gorfow a-der governans hag adhyskansek. Diberth a lettsa chonsyow agan tus yowynk ha’ga gallos a vos arvethys. Arghasans europek re brofyas kevarghow essensek rag lies ekonomieth a’gan kemenethow. An UE re beu, hag a yll bos hwath, defendyer meur a wovenek rag yethow minorytahes agan broyow.

Bythkweth y’n dhadhel Brexit a-lemmyn ny veu omgussulyans kedhlys ow tochya chonsyow devedhek yethow genesik le kewsys an enesow ma. Yma own dhyn y hwra Brexit ledya dhe dhevedhyans andhiogel rag agan kemenethow, dell yw diskwedhys gans ervirans governans an RU dhe hedhi arghasans rag Kernewek. Bos rann a UE divers, gans y guntell krev a gemenethow minoryta ha majoryta a re chons rag konvedhes ha difresyans gwell rag agan yethow agan honan.

An effeyth andhidro a Brexit war agan yethow a allsa bos terosa. Kevrynnys yw sostenadewder ha hewulder ow pesya agan yethow gans yeghes ekonomiethek an kemenethow a gews an yethow ma. Heb ekonomieth a florysh hag a brov arvethow gobrys dhe’n dus a drig yn kemenethow yethow minoryta genesik, an kemenethow ma a wel koll a gowsoryon drefen divroans dhe-ves ha tus ow tiberth rag kavos ober ha treven gavadow. Y hyllir gweles an tuedh ma yn Kembra a gyll milyow a Gembregoryon pub bledhen drefen divroans dhe-ves. Gwelys yw patronyow haval yn ranndiryow Iwerdhon may kewsir Iwerdhonek ha ranndiryow Alban may kewsir Albanek.

Nebes ranndiryow yn arlottes an RU may kewsir yethow minoryta re dhegemeras kevarghow a vri dhyworth arghasow strethurek an Unyans Europek, re bia yn rann herdhys dhe dhisplegya an ekonomieth y’n ranndiryow na. Synsys ynna, y’n spys 2014-2020, yw PEACE IV y’n gledhbarth a Iwerdhon ha Ranndir an Or a Iwerdhon, Towlen Devyans Kernow ha Syllan, an towlennow Kembra West ha Nansow ha Kembra Est yn Kembra hag arghasans rag Ugeldiryow hag Enesow Alban. Arghasans an Unyans Europek rag taklow kepar ha pennskolyow (Horizon 2020, Erasmus+) hag ammeth (EAFRD) a gevre ynwedh dhe’n ekonomieth a ranndiryow may kewsir yethow minoryta, ha rag henna yth yw a les andhidro dhe dreusvewans an yethow ma. Nyns eus arwodh may tegemersa agan kenedhlow nivelow haval a gevarghow dhyworth governans an RU.

Avel kanasow a gemenethow yethow genesik le kewsys y’n enesow ma, ni a gonklud ytho mayth yw res dhyn, rag surhe salowder ha sowena agan yethow ha’ga hemenethow, pesya y’n Unyans Europek, kevri troha y dhisplegyans pella yn spyrys an Unyans Europek avel ragdres gwiryow denel, avel mewghyer a gres, gwirvreus socyal, kesoberyans ha chonsyow ekwal rag poblow agan brastir ha rag Europa unyes yn diversita.

Yn lel

Davyth Hicks, European Language Equality Network (Rosweyth Parder Yeth Europek)
Garry Nicholas, Llywydd y Llys, Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru (Lewydh an Lys, Esedhvos Kenedhlek Kembra)
Dòmhnall MacNèill, Comunn na Gàidhlig (Kowethas an Yeth Albanek)
Loveday Jenkin, Kowethas An Yeth Kernewek
Maureen Pierce, Kesva An Taves Kernewek
Michael Hance, Scots Language Society (Kowethas an Yeth Skots)
Dr Gwenllian Lansdown Davies, Mudiad Meithrin (Movyans Meythrin)
Dr Hywel Glyn Lewis, Chairman, Education Society of the European Regions (Wales) (Lewydh, Kowethas Adhyskans an Ranndiryow Europek (Kembra))
Hanna Medi Merrigan, Llywydd UMCA (Lewydh, Unyans Studhyoryon Gembrek Aberystwyth)
Liam Ó Flannagáin, Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta (Konsel Adhyskans der Iwerdhonek)
Jamie Bevan, Cadeirydd, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (Kaderyor, Kowethas an Yeth Kembrek)