5.1.9 Language laws
In application of Article 6 of the Constitution – "the Republic protects linguistic minorities with special legislation" – several national and regional laws were issued in the past decades to safeguard the autochthonous minority languages, most notably in the autonomous border regions. In this respect, the most far reaching special legislation actually requiring bilingual qualifications for public servants has been the so-called "pacchetto Alto Adige", adopted in 1971 for the autonomous province of Bolzano, where the majority of the population belongs, in fact, to the German-speaking minority.
More recently, a comprehensive law for the safeguarding of the so-called Historic Linguistic Minorities (Law 482/1999) has been adopted, aiming at the protection «of the languages and culture of the Albanians, Catalans, Germans, Greeks, Slovenians and Croatians, as well as of those speaking French, Friulan, Ladin, Occitan and Sardinian». The law established a National Fund for the Safeguard of Linguistic Minorities at the Prime Minister's Office, providing for the teaching of the above mentioned minority languages and cultural traditions, and for their use in official acts at the national, regional and local level. Furthermore, the law requires the public broadcasting service to safeguard historic minority languages via "Public Service Contracts", under the supervision of the Authority for Guarantees in Communication. According to Article 11 of such contracts –renewed for three more years in January 2007 – RAI is committed to radio and TV broadcasting in German, Ladin, French and Slovenian, in the respective reference areas.
On the other hand, notwithstanding some attention to this issue been paid by the most foreseeing regional and local authorities, no legislation and no public action at the national level has been adopted, for the time being, to allow the fast growing communities of "new" minorities not to lose contact with their native languages. An emerging problem, and a controversial one, which will have to be faced in the near future (see also chapter 4.2.4 and chapter 4.2.8).