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Minority Rights in the EU after Lisbon

Ulrike Barten

The inclusion of minorities into the Treaty on European Union (TEU) by the Lisbon Treaty marks the first time minorities are included in binding EU primary law. Minorities are included in art. 2 TEU which lays down the common values of the EU. In art. 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFR) on non-discrimination, membership in a national minority is one of the grounds where discrimination is prohibited. With the Lisbon Treaty, the Charter now has the same legal value as the EU treaties. Members of minorities may also look forward to the EU acceding to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).What do these changes in EU law mean for minorities? Which types of minorities are included in art. 2 TEU? What can members of national minorities expect from art. 21 CFR? Is there a ‘minority advantage’ when the EU accedes to the ECHR and thereby accepts the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights? .Using a special minority lens on the Lisbon Treaty, uncertainties and possibilities are addressed. An overview over minorities in the past in the EU framework is linked to an outlook into the future.

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