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Minority protection did not receive attention in the original EC treaty of 1956. The concept of nondiscrimination of laborers and later of EU citizens became the cornerstone for minority protection. Gradually the EU became familiar with the concept of human rights because of judgments of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). This concept has officially been introduced in the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, which includes the rights of persons belonging to minorities and has been elaborated in Article 21 of the EU Charter of Human Rights. If the Charter is not applicable, minorities have to address national legal instances where there is no say for the EU regarding minorities. In this paper, I will demonstrate that the complex European legal system is not easy to understand in terms of protection of minorities. Recently, the ECJ has decided in the CHEZ versus Nikolova case that it can empower lower national courts against measures of systematic discrimination against minorities based on EU equality directives and Article 21 of the Charter. This verdict together with the EU Commission‘s intention to give the Charter a broad practical legal context shown in the working areas of the Fundamental Rights Agency, should ensure national minorities that European institutions pay really attention to their problems.
Keywords: minority policy, minority protection, EU Charter of Human Rights, EU equality law, Fundamental Rights Agency

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