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Minority Languages

Volume 264: debated on Thursday 19 October 1995

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the expected effect of the European Council of Ministers' decision to end funding for European minority languages and cultures (a) in total cash terms (b) on projects which currently are in receipt of European aid; [37682](2) what discussions he has had with his colleagues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland concerning future European funding for minority languages and cultures; [37683](3) what decision the Council of Ministers has reached on the European funds for the promotion and safeguarding of minority languages and cultures from next year's European budget; and when that decision was taken; [37684](4) what discussions he has had with colleagues concerning the proposal by the European Council of Ministers to end European funding for minority languages and cultures. [37680]

I am also replying on behalf of the Secretary of State for Wales.At the First Reading of the 1996 European Budget on 24 July 1995, the Budget Council of the European Union reduced all budget lines for which it was agreed that there was no legal base, including this one, to a token entry to cover existing commitments only. This budget line has therefore been reduced from 3.5 mecu to zero.The European Parliament will have its First Reading of the European Budget on 26 October and, as the expenditure is not compulsory, it remains open to the Assembly to reinstate the budget line as in previous years.As the European Union Budget Council accepts that there is no legal base for this budget line, there is no case for holding discussions at ministerial level on the substantive merits of the expenditure.