The Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity (NPLD) is a European wide network working in the field of language policy and planning for Constitutional, Regional and Small-State Languages (CRSS) across Europe. NPLD includes governments both national and regional, universities and associations as its members.
NPLD’s main goal is to raise awareness at a European level on the vital importance of linguistic diversity. NPLD also aims to facilitate the exchange of best practices among governments, policy makers, practitioners, researchers and experts from all over Europe.
Over the past 30 years the face of language planning in Europe has changed considerably. Many national and regional governments have established language boards or departments to promote their language, both at home and at a European level. As a result, a new breed of language planning professionals has developed bringing new expertise to the field. The NPLD responds to this development by providing a forum for the professionals to share best practice, and create strong partnerships to move CRSS language planning forward.
The NPLD is open to all CRSS languages as well as to institutions, public bodies, associations, universities, and civil society organizations working in the field of linguistic diversity and multilingualism across Europe.
The common goal of all the languages of the NPLD is to raise awareness at a European level on the positive aspects of linguistic diversity and to portray all languages, regardless of political status, as an opportunity for the personal, social and economic development of Europe along with being a platform to exchange best practices among policy makers, practitioners, researchers and experts across Europe.
After two years of preparatory meetings, on 11th June 2008 the Network was officially launched in an event hosted by the Welsh Assembly Government Office in Brussels. The Commissioner for Multilingualism gave the keynote speech at the event, followed by several European regional ministers and authorities who showed their support to the project. The creation of the Network represented that, for the first time, language planning boards from across Europe from both member states and autonomous governments working together with universities, research centres and NGOs would build and secure meaningful linguistic diversity in Europe.
The Network continued growing since its foundation in 2008 linked to the Welsh Language Board. Its actions were focused on connecting European governments, associations and universities to exchange best practices on language planning and to promote the use of minoritized languages in education, media, the public sphere and social policies. In 2012 NPLD became a standalone entity and was awarded with a European Commission grant (2013-15) to promote linguistic diversity at EU level.
In order to achieve greater visibility within European institutions, in 2016 the Network moved its headquarters from Cardiff to Brussels, where it is currently registered as an international non-profit association, and closely working with EU institutions and other relevant stakeholders.
There are more than 7,000 known living languages in the world, 60 of which are regional or local languages spoken in the European countries by some 40 million people. The European Union has 24 official languages; however, linguistic diversity and multilingualism are encouraged as key elements to the European Union’s cultural diversity. While it is EU members’ governments that determine regional and minoritized languages’ legal status and the extent to which they receive support, European institutions are open to dialogue to support linguistic diversity in different spheres.
The Charter for Regional or Minority Languages promoted by the Council of Europe is the main treaty concerning linguistic diversity in Europe. Adopted as a convention on 25th June 1992 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and entered into force on 1st March 1998, the Charter provides a large number of different actions state parties can take to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages and is provided with follow-up mechanisms to periodically evaluate the progress of its state parties’ commitments.
The briefing “Regional and minority languages in the European Union” published in 2016 by the European Parliamentary Research Service offers further insight into the initiatives promoted at EU level concerning CRSS languages.