A "Europe of the regions" was the idea of the European Commission under its former president Jacques Delors: the aim was to promote the regions in the EU member states and support them in their regional autonomy. As part of this process of making the regions real actors in European politics, changes were made in the structural funding arrangements of the European Union. This has created new opportunities for regions to receive funding and participate in the EU policy process.

Within many EU states, the regions have been given more competences since the 1970s. The process of European integration, combined with decentralisation in many Member States, has given the regions tools for a more active role in the European Union. In order to increase their influence in Brussels, many regions have established networks.

In this context, the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) has launched the "Forum of European Minority Regions" - as a place for cooperation and networking. The goals: to increase the political weight of the individual regions and to exert a stronger influence on EU policy through a united appearance. In addition, the forum offers a space for exchange and analysis of the status quo with regard to minority rights and learning from best-practice examples.

Regional and minority languages are spoken by about 40 million people in Europe. It is precisely those regions where linguistic or ethnic autochthonous minorities live that strengthen European ties in a special way. Europe's minority regions form bridges between the Member States and play a decisive role in European integration.

Minorities contribute to the economic and social development of these regions. It is therefore no coincidence that some of these regions are among the wealthiest in Europe - South Tyrol, with the highest GDP per capita in Italy, or the Basque Country and Navarre, the richest regions in Spain, are good examples.

Nordic diversity – a formula for economic growth?

FUEN is organising the fifth "Forum of Minority Regions" on 14 and 15 October 2021 in Helsinki/Helsingfors, Finland. This year, the focus is on minorities in the Nordic countries and their economic dimension: "Nordic diversity - a formula for economic growth?" is the guiding question of the forum. After all, border areas with their multilingual populations attract investment and many small and medium-sized enterprises. They are bridge builders between countries and create economic macro-regions. The German-Danish border region and Tornedal in northern Sweden are prime examples of this.

Various panel discussions with high-ranking representatives from politics, business and academia will shed light on the economic added value of linguistic diversity, how the education system helps to preserve it and whether the model of autonomous regions in the Nordic countries could serve as a model for other minority regions. Finally, the Forum will try to answer the question what the EU and the Nordic Council can do to support minorities even better.

We would be happy to have you join us in Helsinki on 14 and 15 October 2021 to learn from and discuss with the best experts in the field!

The Forum will be streamed live on FUEN’s Youtube channel with English interpretation and on the Zoom platform in the floor language and with English interpretation.

Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84887639217?pwd=azBaS1BWaE95VmZ2YnhNOXlsc1Vmdz09
Passcode: 039838

Until 14.00 Individual arrival
Hanasaari, Hanasaarenranta 5, FI-02100 Espoo, +358 (0)9 435 020
14.30 – 14.45 Registration
14.45 – 15.30 Welcoming words and introduction

Gunvor Kronman, CEO, Hanaholmen  (video message)
MEP Loránt Vincze, FUEN president
Sandra Bergqvist, president, Folktinget
Thomas Blomqvist, Minister for Nordic Cooperation and Equality
Anna-Maja Henriksson, Minister of Justice  (video message)
15.30 – 17.00 Panel discussion: The economic added value of languages in cross-border cooperation – the cases of Finland-Sweden.

Key-note speech: Professor in economics, Bengt-Arne Wickström. Professor in economics at the Andrássy university, Budapest and  Humboldt university, Berlin.

Moderator: Johan Häggman, FUEN Policy Advisor

Joakim Strand, Member of Parliament, Finland
Grégory Dalbert, Policy Advisor of the Government of the German-speaking Community, Ostbelgien, Belgium
Kjell Skoglund, CEO, Finnish-Swedish chamber of commerce

17.00 – 17.30 Coffee break
17.30 – 18.45

Video message by Bertel Haarder, Chairman of the Nordic Council

Panel discussion: Learning your neighbour’s language – promoting diversity through education

Moderator: Gösta Toft, FUEN Vice President

Gun Oker-Blom, former Head of the Swedish Section of the National Board of Education
Petra Palkio, Board member of the Sweden-Finnish Delegation and Member of the Think Tank V-Akka
Anja Peist, Project assistant in the field of German-Danish language cooperation, Region Sønderjylland – Schleswig
19.00 – 21.00 Dinner at Hanaholmen in co-operation with the city of Espoo
With the student choir Lyran
9.00 - 9.30 Greetings by Agustina Vilaret González, secretary general for University, Research and Language Policy in the Government of the Balearic Islands (Spain) and NPLD chair, The Balearic Islands, Spain
9.30 – 11.00 Panel discussion: Autonomous regions in the Nordic countries – A model for European minority regions.

Moderator: Walter Turnowsky, journalist

With presentations by
Greenland, Jens Heinrich, Head of the delegation of Greenland to Denmark
The Faroe Islands, Jaspur Langgard, Member of parliament of the Faroe Islands
The Åland Islands, Mats Löfström, Member of Parliament, Finland

Comments by representatives of
Hannah Ní Dhoimhín, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Gaeltacht, Ireland
Conchúr Ó Giollagáin, University of the Highlands and Islands, Isle of Skye, UK
Maria del Mar Vanrell, Professor at the University of the Balearic Islands

11.00 – 11.30 Coffee Break
11.30 – 13.00 Panel discussion:  Indigenous people in the Arctic area.

Moderator: Professor Tom Moring
Lars Miguel Utsi, Member of Samediggi, the Sami parliament in Sweden
Anni Koivisto, First Vice President of the Samediggi, the Sami Parliament in Finland
Elin Haf Jones, Professor and Initiator of the “One Million Speakers”-Campaign

13.00– 14.30 Lunch
14.30-15.30 Final debate: What can the Nordic Council, the EU, the Council of Europe and the UN do for minorities?

Moderator: Christina Gestrin, Secretary General, Folktinget

Maria Hokkonen, Head of EU Commission delegation to Finland
Jarmo Lainio, Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, Council of Europe
Andor Barabás, President of YEN.

15.30-16.00 Conclusions by Bahne Bahnsen, FUEN Vice President
Until 10.00 Breakfast in the hotel and individual departure
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