The background for the Euromosaic Report derives from the responses to a tender issued by the Task Force Human Resources, Education, Training and Youth (now DG XXII) which solicited researchers willing to undertake the task of investigating the current situation of the various minority language groups within the EU insofar as in recent years only a few studies have been published giving an overview of the present state of language groups, or communities, other than those of the speakers of the dominant or official state languages in the member states of the European Union.
In 1992-93 the European Commission needed to take stock of the direction of policy in the area of minority languages and cultures. Such information was especially important both because of the rapidly changing legal, institutional and social situation in a number of these communities, and because of the need for a methodologically sound study which would allow a comparative understanding of them. It was therefore decided by the Commission to solicite proposals for a study of the minority language groups of the E.U. Its objective was to ascertain the current situation of the various language groups by reference to their potential for production and reproduction, and the difficulties which they encounter in doing so.
The study is based upon a theoretical perspective which considered the various social and institutional aspects whereby a language group produces and reproduces itself. This involved focusing upon seven central concepts for which empirical measures were sought. The primary agencies of these processes were identified as the family, education and the community. The motivating force involved the concept of language prestige, or the value of a language for social mobility, and cultural reproduction. The link between ability and use related to the concepts of institutionalisation and legitimisation.
The Euromosaic report deriving from this study produced by the Institut de Sociolingüística Catalana (Barcelona), Centre de Recherche sur le plurilinguisme (Brussels), and Research Centre Wales (Bangor), highlights the shift in thinking about the value of diversity for economic deployment and European integration. It argues that language is a central component of diversity, and that if diversity is the cornerstone of innovative development, then attention must be given to sustaining the existing pool of diversity within the E.U.
The Report concludes by focusing upon the difficulties of proactive planning given the existing constraints upon the deployment of existing budgetary resources and calls for the implementation of a Programme which can be the basis for the necessary forward planning.
Apart from the general Report, published in 1996 in several languages by the Commission (Euromosaic: The production and reproduction of the minority language groups in the European Union, ISBN 92-827-5512-6), more than fifty individual, uniformly structured reports were prepared by the three Centres. We now offer all Internet users the opportunity of consulting abbreviated versions of these reports, which contain valuable information on each language community, and an analysis of its prospects for the future. Naturally these reports are open to improvements and updating
Each report was compiled with the support of the relevant bibliography and research, a language correspondent and a number of key witnesses, following a complex procedure. Both the language correspondents and the key witnesses were invited to improve successive drafts of these individual reports.