European movement for protecting national regions
citizens initiative for national regions
Cohesion policy for the equality of the regions and sustainability of the regional cultures

Izsak Balázs - The existence of national regions must be enshrined in lawThe European Commission has formulated a number of questions for its interactive conference scheduled for 28 April. Below are answers to these questions by Izsák Balázs, representative of the citizens' committee of the citizens' initiative for national regions.

Among the various tools for citizens’ involvement, why did you decide to start an ECI?

The European Citizens’ Initiative “National Regions” originated in the middle of Romania, in Szeklerland, or Terra Siculorum in Latin. The majority of this region’s population is Hungarian-speaking, with Hungarian culture, which distinguishes it from the neighboring Romanian-inhabited regions. We have to face the situation that Szeklerland’s development is not one of the Romanian state’s priorities. In other words, we have to endure different forms of economic discrimination. When we saw that we are one among many such regions in the EU, we realized the enormous potential of our issue as a European matter. The harmonious development of the European Union, reducing the gaps between the levels of development of different regions is within the EU’s competence. We believe that our proposal for European legislation could guarantee equality between regions precisely through cohesion policy, as well as the sustainability of regional cultures.

How launching an ECI contributed to expanding your personal/professional network?

The European Commission refused to register our citizens' initiative in 2013. We fought a six-year long lawsuit against the European Commission which we won in 2019. During this time, we built connections throughout the continent: The Breton Cultural Institute, the Basque National Party, the municipality of Debrőd in Slovakia and the Municipality of Covasna County in Romania intervened in the lawsuit. As such, we received confirmation from four different European countries that the issue we seek the solution to is a European matter, well before we even began collecting signatures. Our network of allies continued to expand. After the initiative was registered on 7 May 2019, the FUEN (The Federal Union of European Nationalities) decided to support it. A similar decision was made by the political party European Free Alliance (EFA). During the signature collection, we partnered up with the Catalan National Assembly, which helped collect the mandatory minimum threshold in Spain (40,500 signatures required). “National Regions” also cooperates with the Sardinian National Assembly and the Association of Poles in Lithuania. This is not an exhaustive list, but I believe that the common task has brought together a great many people for the sake of a common goal, and this is a good foundation for a European movement for the protection of national regions.

What did you learn during your ECI journey?

A great many things. The most surprising was that the inhabitants of the national regions feel that they are left to their own devices in solving their problems, and very few realize that common fate is a serious basis for cooperation among them. From whom could the Catalans expect more empathy than from the Szeklers, Flemings, Bretons or Corsicans? And vice versa. If we were to connect all regions on the map of Europe, with a line symbolizing a future partnership, the entire map would turn into one big network, and the great intellectual challenge for the future is to decide what plans, what concepts of development we want to run through this network. The task for the future is found at the end of all the lessons learned.

How did launching an ECI help spark a debate on the issue you care about?

People helped spark the debate. People across Europe recognized the importance of the issue of national regions and commented on it, debating one another. We can say that we have managed to turn national regions into a subject of public discussion, from Spain to the Baltics, and from Bulgaria to Belgium. The initiative’s Facebook page has more than 8,500 likes, from people living in different EU states and representing different cultures. It is a real intellectual adventure to present a question that concerns us all in an attempt to find a common solution for the future.

How did your ECI impact EU legislation or action in that area? Since the start of your initiative, have there been decisions at EU level that led to the achievement of the objectives of your initiative? Do you feel your objectives have been met after your ECI collected the 1 million signatures?

The European Union still does not recognize the concept of national regions, even though they do exist in reality. If they share specific needs and we find that they do, then EU law will also have to show progress and legislate on the existence of national regions, recognizing them as subjects of EU law. Only then can something be done to help them. More than a million signatures have been collected from ten countries. Only when the European Commission assumes a positive, proactive attitude on the issue of national regions and launches the legislative process to address it, then we will be able to say that our goals have been achieved.

• nationalregions.eu • nemzetiregiok.eu • regiuninationale.ro • nationaleregionen.eu • regionsnacionals.eu • regionesnacionales.eu • regionynarodowe.eu • regionsnationales.eu • aberrieskualdea.eu • nationaleregios.eu •
• European Citizens' Initiative • Europako Hiritarren Ekimena • Европейска гражданска инициатива • Evropská občanská iniciativa • De europæiske borgerinitiativ • Euroopa kodanikualgatus • Eurooppalainen kansalaisaloite • L'initiative citoyenne européenne • Iniciativa dos cidadáns europeos • Πρωτοβουλία των Ευρωπαίων Πολιτών • Europees Burgerinitiatief • Europska Građanske inicijative • Tionscnamh Eorpach na Saorámach • Evrópskra ríkisborgara Initiative • Iniciativa Ciutadana Europea • Europejska Inicjatywa Obywatelska • Eiropas pilsoņu iniciatīva • Eiropas pilsoņu iniciatīva • Inizjattiva taċ-Ċittadini Ewropej • Európai polgári kezdeményezés • Europäische Bürgerinitiative • Iniziativa dei cittadini europei • Европейская гражданская инициатива • *Iniciativa dos Cidadãos Europeus • Iniciativa Ciudadana Europea • Iniţiativa cetăţenească europeană • Europeiska medborgarinitiativet • Európska občianska iniciatíva • Evropska državljanska pobuda • Avrupa Vatandaş Girişimi • Menter Dinasyddion Ewropeaidd •

Partners

  • Szekler National Council
    logo sznt
  • Euzko Alderdi Jeltzalea
    eaj pnv
  • Assemblea Nacional Catalana
    assemblea
  • Junts
    junts
  • Consell per la República Catalana
    Consel per la Republica Catalana
  • Plataforma per la Llengua
    Vlaamse
  • Conradh na Gaeilge
    Conradh na Gaeilge
  • Vlaamse Volksbeweging
    Vlaamse

  • Compromiso por Galicia
    Compromiso por Galicia
  • European Free Alliance
    European Free Aliance
  • Federal Union of European Nationalities
    FUEN
  • European Language
    Equality Network
    European Language Equality Network
  • International Commission
    of European Citizens
    International Commission of European Citizens
  • Hungarian Civic Party
    Hunagrian Civic Party
  • Hungarian National
    Council of Transylvania
    Hungarian National Council of Transylvania

  • Hungarian People's Party of Transylvania
    Transylvanian Hungarian Peoples Party
  • Democratic Alliance
    of Hungarians in Romania
    Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania
  • Party of Hungarian Community
    Party of Hungarian Community
  • Hungarian Christian
    Democratic Alliance
    Hungarian Christian Democratic Alliance
  • Initiative der kulturellen
    Autonomie Schlesiens e.V. (IkAS)
    Initiative der kulturellen Autonomie Schlesiens e.V. (IkAS
  • Municipality of Budapest
  • Municipality of Gyergyó-
    szentmiklós
  • Municipality of Csíkszereda
  • Municipality of Sepsiszent-
    györgy
  • Municipality of Vác
  • Society for Hungarians of the Carpathian Basin
  • National Association of Szeklers from Bukovina
    logo bszosz
  • Society for Szeklerland
  • Municipality of Kézdivásárhely
  • Municipality of Farkaslaka
  • Municipality of Kerepes
  • Municipality of Törökbálint
  • Rákóczi Association
  • Municipality of
    Csíkpálfalva
  • Municipality of
    Eger


  • Municipality of
    Budapest, XV. kerület
  • Municipality of
    Hódmezõvásárhely
  • Municipality of
    Székelyderzs
  • Citizens' Initiative for a better Komárom
  • The Sepsireform Association
  • Municipality of
    Kápolnásfalu
  • Municipality of
    Szentegyháza
  • Municipality of
    Érd
  • The National Association of the Transylvanian circles
  • Municipality of
    Szentendre
  • Association for the Transylvanian Hungarians
  • Hungarian Civic Circle Civil Association
  • Civil Organizations Federation of Covasna County
  • Eudoxia 20 Foundation
  • Municipality of
    Mány
  • Municipality of
    Székesfehérvár
  • Municipality of
    Makfalva
  • Union of Transylvania family associations
  • Association of Transylvanian extended families
  • Hungarian Castle Foundation
  • Municipality of the XXII'nd District of Budapest - Budafok-Tétény
  • YOU ARE IMPORTANT!© Movement
  • Municipality of
    Zebegény
  • Municipality of
    Vargyas
  • Municipality of
    Devecser
  • Municipality of
    Uzon
  • Municipality of
    Békés
  • Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft
  • Municipality of
    Újkígyós
  • Municipality of
    Kaposvár
  • Municipality of
    Dévaványa
  • Municipality of
    Püspökladány
  • Hunnia Baráti Kör
  • Municipality of
    Nagykanizsa
  • Municipality of
    Dunaújváros
  • Municipality of
    Enying
  • Municipality of
    Kisláng
  • Municipality of
    Pusztaszabolcs
  • Municipality of Dunaszerdahely
  • Municipality of Újpest
  • Municipality of Dunakeszi
  • Municipality of Tata
  • Keresztény Értelmiségiek Szövetsége
  • Magyarország Barátai Alapítvány
    logo mba
  • Municipality of Terézváros
    Municipality of Terézváros
Design & Development: Digital Studio