Membership structures and fees Initial Discussion Paper
The present structure in terms of categories of membership and also membership fees has
been in place since the NPLD network was established in 2007. Since then there have been
many discussions around the issue of membership fees and these have been adjusted to
reflect the current economic downturn. Also during this period NPLD has been in receipt of
two periods of EU grant funding, the first from 2007-2010 and the second for the period
2013- 2015. As we look to the future of the network from 2016 onwards, both in terms of its
membership and also in terms of its financial stability, now is a good time to revisit both the
issues of internal structures and fees.
This paper is intended as a base for the initial discussion in 2014, in order to look and
calculate ahead for the period from 2016 onwards. The final decision on this paper will be
taken by the end of 2014 so as NPLD can safeguard it’s future.
Three major considerations need to come into play in these discussions if we wish to see the
network further develop itself on a strong and stable foundation.
Europe 2020 and other sources of European funding. The funding which has been
available for networking for regional and minority languages is no longer an obvious
feature with the new EU grant budgets for the period 2014-20. Although it’s stated
that all the budget lines are open for all languages, the new programmes under
Erasmus Plus for example are geared very specifically towards the university, schools
and youth work sector. Therefore general funding to support the networking facility
provided by NPLD is unlikely to be funded. If we wish to gain EU grant funding we
will need to apply for specifically funded projects which are within the work
areas/sectors listed above. These of course will be specific projects and will not
release funding for more general networking.
The second issue is the economic downturn which has had an affect on many of the
members of NPLD, especially the governments of the countries in southern Europe.
This economic situation is likely to continue for some time. Moreover, various
regional governments are strictly confined to one-year budget calculations and
Therefore find it difficult, if not impossible, to commit themselves to paying
membership fees over a two to three year period.
When the NPLD network was initially established, it was calculated that it would cost at
least 300,000€ to run a network such as the NPLD on a yearly basis. This has proved to be
the case and that sum has most probably increased to around €350,000. To continue the
work of NPLD after the end of the present grant period will be difficult.
We consider, however, three possible ways to increase the budget of the NPLD:
(1) The members increase their membership fees from the current reduced levels
(2) An other way of generating funding is agreed
(3) Attracting new members
At present we have developing a two, level of payment of fees: full members and associate
members. Some discontent is developing around the issue of difference between the actual
fees of full members, and therefore there needs to be more clarity about what will be the
membership fees in the future and how these can be stabilised in order to facilitate the
longer term planning of the network’s activities and budgets.
The third issue is the one of attracting new members. To attract new members we
must have both an attractive list of activities and events and be able to show that we
are a major player in terms of CRSS languages at an EU level. We have already
started to change the nature of our meetings, with much more emphasis being
placed on the sharing of experiences and knowledge and much less on issues around
the actual running of the network. One of the ways that we could look at persuading
a broader range of language communities to join would be to revise the current
membership fee structure, which is, in principle, that all linguistic communities
should pay the same fee. This obviously is rather difficult to sell to a new member
when it’s stated that a member with 5 million speakers is require to pay the same as
a community with 40,000 speakers and no formal institutions of their own to help
them with their fees! Therefore it would be good to consider having differentiated
levels of fees which would reflect the linguistic nature and democratic structures of
individual communities.
The process and timetable
This paper is intended as a base for an initial discussion on what could be a rather sensitive
and difficult process. In terms of a timetable it is envisaged that this discussion should take
place during 2014, with a final proposal being made by the SC meeting at the beginning of
2015, and then being proposed for ratification to the GA in 2015. This would lead us into
2016, which is the year after our present grant funding from the EU comes to an end.
This discussion will also need to consider carefully the nature of the work of the network in
the future. If we wish NPLD to be mainly a lobbying mechanism at a European level then
there is no doubt that membership fees will have to rise substantially as no EU grant funding
will be available for this activity. The other avenue is to look for a mixture of activities which
include advocacy work, the sharing of good practise and also some developmental work,
and then it is possible to look for EU funding. But much of the new funding will be for
project work in quite specific areas and themes. The main organisations which will receive
funding from the EU in these contexts will be universities and to a lesser extent schools.
There also will be some funding around the issue of policy development – again in the
context of education and training. Therefore in our revision of the work of the network we
will need to consider how we facilitate the development of these new projects or work
streams within the network itself.
The following suggestions outline a way forward in terms of dealing with the new issues
which will face NPLD over the coming months and years. What is proposed is a relatively
simple diversification of the structures of NPLD and hopefully these first ideas will prompt a
discussion which will lead to an agreement on the best possible structures for us to face the
Three levels of membership are proposed:
Full Member
Associate Member
Project/work theme Member
Full Members
Full members are the core members of the network; national, regional and local authorities . They
have access to all the meetings and work streams of the network. There could be three levels of
membership for Full Members based on the numbers of speakers (fluent speakers) within their
Less than 100,000 speakers
Between 100,000 and 500,000 speakers
More than 500,000 speakers
Fee 10,000-15,000€
Fee 20,000€
Fee 25,000-30,000€
Members in financial difficulties may be able to request a reduced fee based on providing evidence.
This reduced fee will be for an agreed limited period only.
Associate Member
Associate Members will include non-governmental organisations, local governmental organisations,
university departments, research centres, associations, clubs, youth organisations, small networks
etc. working in the field of linguistic diversity.
Associate Members will be entitled to send one representative to the annual General Assembly of
NPLD free of charge, which consists of travel costs and one night at a hotel or similar. Associate
members will be represented at the Steering Committee of NPLD. (Currently 5 members are
representing the associate members in the SC.) Associate members represented on the Steering
Committee are required to inform other Associate Members of the activities and the decisions taken
by the Steering Committee of NPLD.
Annual fee for Associate Members 1.000 €
Project & Work Theme Members
The third level of membership will deal with members who are part of a project or work theme
which has been agreed by NPLD. Erasmus Plus provides numerous opportunities for joint working on
projects or work themes which in general are related to all aspects of education, training and youth
work. Universities are very well placed to be included at this level of membership. Initially at this
level of membership, NPLD will attract or invite members as project members.
Project members
Project members are individuals from organisations who join NPLD through an invitation process
and who are members for the period of the project. Projects will have a defined start and finish date
and a specific task to accomplish. They will not be represented on the SC apart from the reports on
their work produced by the secretariat.
Work Theme members
Work theme members are members of the network who have progressed through the process of
being Project members and are now working on a strand of work which the members of NPLD
consider important enough for it to be established as a permanent work stream. The Permanent
work stream will be represented on the Steering Committee of the NPLD by the Chair of the work
stream. Membership fees for the work stream will either be sum of 10,000€ or will form a sum
agreed by the work stream as an investment in the work to be undertaken. This sum cannot be less
than 10,000€.
Comments Recieved on Membership and Fees Initail Discussion Paper
All comments noted below were recieved by 1st May 2014, from 5 members of the NPLD.
Their comments are as follows;
Folktinget thanks for the possibility to comment on the initial discussion paper. In general, we find it
crucial to thoroughly assess the situation and plan for the years to come, regarding the future
structures and working conditions of the network, as well as the funding of it, and thus safeguarding
that the activities and the basis for the NPLD remain on solid grounds. The future funding
opportunities from the EU programmes for our languages and for the network itself, indeed poses
questions and concerns.
General comments, process and timetable
The year 2016 onwards makes a good starting point, as the second of our 3-year projects (NB, the
former project periods were 2008-10 and 2013-15) funded by the EU is coming to an end at the end
of year 2015. We note however, that the funding for the network for 2016 seems to be enough for
to continue with basic activities until the end of that year, as we will both be repaid the bank
guarantee sum from Friesland, probably be able to raise membership fees at more or less the
current level, and in addition have some remainders from the last years to fall back on. However, if
we continue in 2016 with activities that are on the current level, we will have very little funding left
for 2017. It is therefore wise and foreseeing to revise our structures and fees in good time.
Folktinget therefore agrees on the timetable being set up: to present the revision of structures and
fees to the GA 2014 briefly and to agree on the timetable and process, then to give the SC time to
thoroughly discuss and agree on a proposal to the GA during autumn. After that, the texts have to be
finalized including necessary proposals for amendments to the Statutes and other documents at the
latest by February 2015, in order for the SC to agree on the concrete proposals for the GA. The
formal decision/ratification on any new structures (and fees to go along with these) including
amendments to the Statutes, is to be done at the GA in summer 2015, and the new membership
structures shall come into force from the beginning of year 2016.
On possible sources for funding
We agree that the possibilities to receive funding for the networking of the NPLD (and for general
purposes, to fund the network itself) seem to be bleak within the framework of the new EU
programmes and funding instruments that have been presented.
However, we wish to put forward a word of caution. Even if it is true that especially in the realm of
Erasmus+ emphasis is (almost entirely) being put on universities, schools and the youth sector, and
funding will be available for projects only in these very specific sectors, we should be very careful to
“blindly” focus on these areas, just because we need funding.
We must not move too far away from the core activities and issues that are crucial for the NPLD,
i.e. promoting linguistic diversity and engaging in language planning. Folktinget strongly believes
that the network needs to continue to put its main focus on these areas, in order to maintain its
raison-d’ètre as the only European network promoting linguistic diversity. We want to point out that
projects with a very specific scope will engage and be beneficial only to those members who have a
special interest in and themselves are able to work in that specific area (which in turn could lead to a
frustration for other members, feeling being left out). In addition, as said in the paper, project
funding does not necessarily bring any funding to the network itself, but only to the specific project
(EU-funded projects often “eat” a lot of resources as well, in an administrative sense).
Therefore, if we seek project funding, the NPLD has to balance very carefully between different
topics, keeping in mind our core issues. We have to seek for opportunities in all relevant EU
programmes in order to keep a broader range of issues we engage in, and not only focus on for
example the education or youth sectors via the Erasmus+. We thus have to analyze carefully also the
structural fund possibilities and other possible options. (for example, we have information that
FUEN has succeeded in getting Interreg funding for its project The House of Minorities in Flensburg,
which is to include a Think Tank. All possibilities thus have to be examined.)
Maybe we should also look for possibilities to engage in more concrete cooperation with other
networks or organizations, such as the FUEN? This could give us more “muscles” in certain fields –
speaking in one voice, and in a lobbying capacity maybe? (FUEN will open an information office in
Brussels). It does not necessarily mean that we would have to be part of a formal project that would
require additional funding. We could maybe elaborate a way of functioning that would bring
expertise and resources together but with a division of tasks, for a specific purpose/field? These are
only initial ideas that could be developed further.
On the three possible ways to increase the budget of the NPLD, we wish to state the following:
Firstly, we unfortunately don’t think it’s realistic that the (full) members would increase their
membership fees drastically during the years to come. If the decreased European funding is a fact, so
is the situation of the public funding of our members and activities at a national, regional and local
level, due to the economic crisis. This will not change in the foreseeable future. The second way is
indeed to generate any other ways (in plural!) of funding that can be found (see ideas above). And
trying to attract new members is definitely worth while, even if the number of possible full members
seems to be limited (partly due to the “division of power” between NPLD and FUEN).
Introducing a new category of members could, according to Folktinget, be helpful, but would bring
more economic stability mainly as far as specific project work is concerned. We will try to further
develop these thoughts below.
Comments on the proposed categories of membership
Firstly a general comment: Folktinget does not agree on the notion that individuals could be
members, in any of the categories. Even when we have a researcher, a professor or an expert
engaging in a project, their background institution has to be the formal member, also bringing
security and stability (economic, prestige and other) to the mutual cooperation.
On the three membership levels and accompanying fees proposed for the full members, Folktinget
does (for its own part) agree with the categories and fees proposed in the paper. If however, the
reduced fee option seems to become a rule rather than an exception for most full members when
we come to 2016, maybe the categories should still be discussed further? We would like to stress
the need for a list of all current members and to which proposed category they would fall into
according to the numbers of speakers, to be provided at the meetings where we discuss the matter.
This would make the proposal more concrete.
Another model that has already been discussed, would be a mix between slightly lower membership
fees for the full members, in connection with “self-financing” regarding the costs of meetings (travel
and accommodation). One proposal could be that members, both full and associate, would be paid
by the NPLD for participating in only one meeting per year, the GA (this would remain the same as in
the current system for the associate members– provided that their membership fees follow the level
of average costs for one person coming to a meeting). The costs for participating in all other
meetings would be covered by the members themselves.
Associate members: Folktinget agrees on this category being kept more or less as it is, including the
fees, that should of course be checked towards the average costs of travel and accommodation for
one meeting (as we have agreed before). That is why the fee in the paper is proposed to be 1.000
euros instead of the current 750 – we are speaking of a period starting from year 2016 onwards.
Proposal on third category, project members and/or work theme members:
One question that is absolutely crucial, before deciding on introducing new categories of members,
is the one about the believed added value for organizations, institutions, universities, research
institutes and others, whom we would like to invite to become new project or work theme/stream
members. How do we motivate them and what arguments do we use, what is their incentive to
engage in cooperation and projects with the NPLD? And in addition, to pay for it? It is a fact, even
before the new EU programmes came into force, that the research institutes, universities and the
rest of the education sector are the ones that receive EU funding relatively easily, this sector also has
the most developed networks throughout Europe and also internationally. So what can we offer
them? This has to be stated very clearly and also evaluated thoroughly, before we take any further
On the other hand, many educational institutions have quite substantial funds for research and
development projects – which means that they can, and should in our view, contribute to mutual
projects at least by paying a co-funding share. The NPLD cannot afford members or cooperation
partners that wouldn’t contribute to our work also in a financial sense (other than helping to bring in
EU funds). So in our view there are two prerequisites for bringing in new members/member
categories: on one hand the proposed new members have to be motivated to cooperate with us
and also prepared to pay a contribution for this, and on the other, the NPLD should benefit from
this cooperation, both content-wise and economically. We need to ensure that both these
prerequisites are met, before we make fundamental structural changes to our own network.
On the proposed third category: Folktinget does not agree on the need to divide between project
members and (more permanent) work theme/stream members.
In fact, the project member category is not needed at all in the formal categorization of NPLD
membership! Nowhere in our Statutes or other rules there is a wording that would forbid or restrain
us from engaging in cooperation with a third party, even meaning being partners in a EU project. We
can do that within our current structures and by agreement of our decision-making bodies (the SC,
with ratification by the GA). We only need to present a project plan and a budget for this, and to
make a contract with the partner/s concerned on practical matters like the division of both co7
funding and responsibilities, before deciding formally to hand in an application. The EU has strict
rules for the rest…
The work theme/stream question is more complex. We currently have a body that is not mentioned
in the Statutes, the Think Tank. But as the TT is formed only by members already belonging to the
network, as the TT rules and budgets have been agreed in the SC and the GA, and there is no
additional membership fee involved, that is different. No additional category is needed for the TT, it
is simply an internal structure (and can thus be compared with an internal project). A totally
different question is, how the appearance of new work streams would affect the functioning of the
TT itself – if for example one work stream would focus on migrant issues? Who would then decide
Bringing in a new membership category, from a sector that we haven’t worked with that closely
before, wanting to set up a working pattern that differs from our normal procedures, and in addition
wanting these new members to contribute financially – yes, this will indeed require the changing of
our Statutes. But the view of Folktinget is to try to formulate a more general definition of the
possibility of forming (ad hoc) work streams in the Statutes, rather than to have a heavy structure
or to state that this membership form is (categorically) “permanent”. We however need to
formulate some basic rules on this. For example, the decision about forming this kind of work stream
would in our view fall on the GA (on proposal of the SC), who would also decide on the theme and
duration of the work stream, and of yearly membership fees for new members in connection with
this. Our view is that the work stream should be flexible and in that sense ad hoc/provisional,
formed for a certain period of time (which can of course be prolonged – but there might be new
needs and themes that come instead, after a certain period?). One has also to bear in mind, that the
proposed partners will not necessarily even be eager to make an unlimited commitment - in that
sense a 2-3 year period to start with could be quite functional? There should also be rules about on
which conditions other (old) members can participate in the work stream, or maybe members
should be agreed once and for all by the GA, following certain criteria? (there is a danger that most
of our present members would wish to “sit in”, which could hamper the efficiency of such a work
If we agree on this form of new work stream category, we could write quite general formulations to
the Statutes (a few new paragraphs are needed). And then, as a first practical measure by the GA,
decide that we want to form a work stream on the theme “Education and Youth” (as an example!),
formulating the conditions of work, the general tasks, duration and the fees. In our view, the
preparatory work and the planning before forming such a first work stream is crucial, and will most
probably take time! We will have to be certain of the interest for such a work stream by external
partners, and have to formulate certain basic rules beforehand. The level of the fee for external
partners needs to be substantial (10.000 euros seems to be a good start concerning universities, but
could be too much for other groups in the future?) – we simply must not change the whole structure
of our network for much less! What also needs to be remembered, is that most work streams will
engage in applying for EU project funding (thus, this membership category will actually be a
combination of the proposed project and work stream members). If this is the case, the work stream
membership fees should at least partly be used for the co-funding purposes of the specific project.
After forming a work stream, we would need to ensure that this form of membership category is
working efficiently and without problem (for 2-3 years?), before deciding on the next step (which
may be forming another work stream, or further developing our structures).
Question on the distinction between membership categories 2 and 3
One concrete question that Folktinget wishes to raise, speaking about membership categories
(especially the associate membership in comparison with the new, third category), is the role of
research institutes, universities and other educational bodies. That is, IF we were to introduce a
third category that most probably (at least in the beginning) would focus on educational issues. How
would this affect the bodies dealing with education that already ARE associate members of the
network, in connection to this new category? In which category would they then belong? Because if
we have different categories, it should be very clear where different applying members would fit in
(the categories should be mutually exclusive). And it would not be appropriate to have double
standards regarding “old” and “new” members belonging to the same field of expertise, being put
into different positions within the network. This question needs further discussion and clarification.
Folktinget thanks again for the opportunity to comment on the initial paper and ideas presented
to the Steering Committee. As we might be facing rather fundamental changes in our structures in
the coming years, we hope that the network will engage in a thorough and constructive discussion
about the best way forward.
Helsinki, 24 April 2014
Folktinget – The Swedish Assembly of Finland
Markus Österlund,
Secretary General
Peggy Heikkinen
International Coordinator
It is clear from the paper that the NPLD has operated on the basis of a combination of membership
fees and EU grant funding since its establishment in 2007. With EU grant funding due to end in 2015,
this is an appropriate juncture to consider the future of the NPLD.
The NPLD currently operates as a network with the dual aim of raising awareness at a European level
of linguistic diversity and facilitating the exchange of best practice among its members. Its future
raison d'être needs to be considered in the context of its membership structure and fees. It appears
from the paper that EU grant funding will not be available in future for networking/lobbying and that
the focus will be on funding specific projects. While recognising the laudable aim of raising
awareness of linguistic diversity at a European level, it is considered that more practical benefits can
be reaped through facilitating the exchange of best practice among members.
The paper outlines 3 possible ways to increase the NPLD's budget through increasing membership
fees, generating alternative sources of funding and attracting new members. In the context of
ongoing budgetary pressures and concerns regarding the actual benefits of NPLD membership,
increasing membership fees is not considered to be a viable option. The option of generating
alternative sources of funding, presumably through applying for project funding from the EU, may be
difficult to achieve in reality. While the third option of attracting new members is worth considering,
NPLD experience to date has shown that this can be problematic.
The paper outlines a possible approach to a differentiated membership structure including full
members, associate members and project/work theme members. The full membership structure
proposes 3 levels of membership based on the number of fluent speakers in language communities.
Full membership involves national, regional and local authorities. Even for bodies of this nature,
annual membership fees ranging from €10,000 to €30,000 is a considerable investment which
requires a clear justification in the form of outputs and outcomes resulting from it. Reducing the full
membership fee to a more reasonable flat rate for all may be a more viable option.
The associate membership fee of €1,000 per annum covers a wide range of organisations, including
non-governmental organisations. It may be difficult for organisations of this nature to justify or
indeed afford taking out associate membership of the NPLD.
The third tier of membership for project/work theme members appears to be orientated towards
universities or other unidentified members. An annual fee of €10,000 would appear to be ambitious
to achieve, particularly if the benefits of NPLD membership are not entirely clear to potential
With EU grant funding due to end in 2015, the future viability of the NPLD is clearly in the balance. In
this context, it is considered timely to undertake a root and branch review of the NPLD's modus
operandi, membership structure and fees with a view to considering whether an alternative
approach may be more realistic in the current economic climate. All options should be open to
consideration as part of this review, including online meetings; members paying for their own travel
and subsistence costs to attend face to face meetings, where such meetings are deemed necessary;
and discontinuing the interpretation facilities currently provided at meetings. Notwithstanding the
practical difficulties which these measures may cause, members may need to accept that face to
face meetings may become the exception rather than the rule for the NPLD in future and that the
lingua franca of the NPLD is of necessity English, in the context of ongoing budgetary constraints.
Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Ireland), 30 April 2014
I have some questions about the document: the first one is on the date of decision. At the beginning
of the document the date is the end of 2014. I’m afraid it will not be that one, because as it is
indicated in the paragraph The process and timetable, the debate will take place during 2014, the SC
will make a proposal at the beginning of 2015, to be submitted for ratification at the 2015 GA.
Erasmus Plus program is mentioned in the document, and it is also said that it will be more difficult
to get grants, because universities, schools and youth sector will be most probably receiving these
grants. In my opinion, there are other European programs that a network like NPLD could access. We
should consider also this way. Perhaps we are not paying attention to other funding, because there
is a special emphasis on turning the network into something educational, specifically focused on
universities, which already have their specific networks.
The document also states that 350,000 € are needed for the NPLD to move forward. When
considering three ways to increase the budget (increase in fees, new way to generate funds and
recruiting new members) I would include a fourth: an issue we have already raised in several
meetings: let’s start from the money we have (fees + European grant) and see what we can do with
The second paragraph, The process and timetable, should be part of the initial argument. My
question is if in fact the only possibility of having new European funding is through universities. I
think we should ask Vicent for advice on this matter, because he knows well the European grants
and funding.
On the proposal of three types of members:
- Full Members: I do not think we could agree on paying our fees according to the number of
- Associate Members: I suppose most of them will refuse to pay more than they do now.
- Project & Work Theme Members:
This new kind of member requires further explanation. It would be any change on the structures of
NPLD, statutes and internal rules?
Would this new proposal replace the job done in the Think Tank group?
Full Members:
Why not introduce a system based on either the levels of Gross National Product or related to the
tax incomes of the countries/regions; some regions have their own tax incomes, whereas others are
dependent on funds from the national governments.
PROJECT Members:
Costs for work, travel and accommodation shall be covered by the own organsations.
As I have expressed before I don't think that a fee based on the number of speakers of a language is
a fair basis. Occitan and Breton in France for example are languages which still enjoy a certain
amount of speakers so to speak but the legal and financial support for those languages are certainly
amongst the weakest in Europe, as are the same for the languages of Greece I'm afraid.
Fulup Jakez

02 Jun 2014SC1402-05. Membership Structure Initial Ideas