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    ECML in the Council of Europe

ECML in the Council of Europe

Founded in 1949, the Council of Europe is the oldest and geographically the largest of the European organisations. Its main domains of competence are human rights, legal affairs, social cohesion and education, culture and heritage, youth and sport. Eight countries - Austria, France, Greece, Liechtenstein, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Switzerland - founded the European Centre for Modern Languages in 8 April 1994 as an "Enlarged Partial Agreement" of the Council of Europe.

A Partial Agreement is defined as: "a form of co-operation allowing to pursue certain activities not supported by all member states of the Council of Europe. Consequently, only interested member states participate in such an Agreement and bear the costs(…)". Today the ECML has 32 member states. The ECML partial agreement is "enlarged", which means that non-member states of the Council could also join the Centre.

Resolution (94) 10 established the ECML on a trial basis until December 1997. It furthermore stipulated, that an external evaluation group was to assess the ECML's performance during the trial period. As a result of the positive recommendations of this evaluation, the Committee of Ministers decided to make the Centre a permanent institution through the Resolution (98) 11 in July 1998. This resolution spells out the aims and objectives of the Centre, defines its structures and outlines the composition and tasks of each organ.

The ECML falls within the Council's Directorate General IV - Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport.

The Council of Europe has been active in the area of language education since the 1960s. Its activities in this field aim to promote plurilingualism and pluriculturalism among citizens, with the objective of:

  • combating intolerance and xenophobia by improving communication and mutual understanding between individuals,
  • protecting and developing the linguistic heritage and cultural diversity of Europe as a source of mutual enrichment,
  • facilitating personal mobility and the exchange of ideas,
  • developing a harmonious approach to language teaching based on common principles,
  • promoting large-scale plurilingualism.
     

The Council of Europe and Languages: promoting linguistic diversity and language learning

The ECML in Graz, the Language Policy Unit (LPU) and the secretariat of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in Strasbourg together provide a common approach within the framework of the Council of Europe to dealing with language issues.

The role and activities of the Graz Centre are complementary to those of the Language Policy Unit, whose primary responsibilities are the elaboration of policies and guidelines for promoting linguistic diversity and plurilingualism and the development of policy planning and standard-setting reference instruments.

The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is a convention designed on the one hand to protect and promote regional and minority languages as a threatened aspect of Europe’s cultural heritage and on the other hand to enable speakers of a regional or minority language to use it in private and public life. Its overriding purpose is cultural. It covers regional and minority languages, non-territorial languages and less widely used official languages.

 European Cultural Convention