Ethnic minorities are defined as citizens of the Czech Republic (CR) who claim a nationality other than Czech. Foreigners are defined as people with other than Czech citizenship.
The definition of the term ethnic minority and member of a national minority is described in Act No. 273/2001 Coll. According to this Act, the Government Council for Ethnic Minorities was established as an advisory and initiative body for issues connected with ethnic minorities and their members and the protection of minority languages. The chairperson of the Council is also a member of the Government of the CR. There are 30 members of the Council, e.g. the vice-ministers of finance, culture, education, labour, interior, justice and foreign affairs and 14 ethnic minorities – Bulgarian, Croatian, Hungarian, German, Polish, Roma, Ruthenian, Russian, Greek, Slovak, Serbian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.
Since 2002, once a year, the Council submits the “Report on the Situation of Ethnic Minorities in the CR” to the government. It contains reports from all the ministries involved, bodies of local and regional government, representatives of ethnic minorities in the Council and other background information. Since 2002, the Report has changed mostly in connection with ratification of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages in the CR. A greater proportion of the Report is dedicated to applying ethnic-minority policy on the local and regional level – specifically, to the implementation of the Charter.
Ethnic minorities are supported mostly through subsidy programmes in the state budget (Ministry of Culture (MC), Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MEYS) and the Office of the Government of the CR) and is divided up thematically into the following programmes:
- support for the preservation, development, and presentation of the culture of ethnic minorities;
- support for the dissemination and spread of information in the languages of ethnic minorities;
- support for education in the languages of ethnic minorities and multicultural education;
- support for projects of integration of members of the Roma community.
The Office of the Government of the CR maintains the following support programmes:
- Implementation of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages;
- Programme of Support for Field Work;
- Support for Coordinators of Roma Consultants in Regional Offices; and
- Programme for the Prevention of Social Exclusion and for Community Work.
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports run three programmes in the field of education:
- Programme of Support for Education in Languages of Ethnic Minorities, Extra-curricular and Leisure Activities for Children and Youth;
- Development Programme in Support of Schools Implementing Inclusive Education; and
- Programme of Support for Projects for the Socially Disadvantaged and Ethnic Minorities in Post-secondary Education
The MC has three programmes:
- Programme of Support for Disseminating and Receiving Information in Languages of National Minorities – support for periodical press, radio and television broadcasting;
- Programme of Support for Cultural Activities of National Minority Members – support for artistic, cultural and educational activities, research and analysis of national culture and folk traditions, documentation of national cultures, editorial activity, and multi-ethnic cultural events aiming to combat intolerance and xenophobia; and
- Programme of Support for the Roma Community Integration – it focuses on creating equal conditions for members of the Roma community, especially support for social and cultural activities executed by Roma community organisations.
In addition to these three programmes the MC provides state subsidies for activities of ethnic minorities, for instance, as part of its programme Library of the 21st Century, and which are intended for libraries for working with ethnic minorities and for the integration of foreigners and subsidies aimed at supporting multi-ethnic activities in the field of culture, the aim of which is to promote cultural dialogue and shared knowledge of different cultures within the framework of other grant competitions.
The MC also is also responsible for the Museum of Roma Culture in Brno.
Programmes in the field of culture and education also address other minorities such as the Jewish community. Projects by civic associations of these minorities are supported as is the Jewish Museum in Prague. The Ministry of Culture also manages the organisation Terezín Memorial, which carries out research and educational activities on the Holocaust.
The Concept for the Integration of Foreigners was first adopted by the government in December 2000; the most recently updated version is from 2014. Integration means the process of including foreigners in society, a reciprocal process which involves necessarily foreigners themselves and also the majority society. The Concept from the start has envisioned the involvement of several ministries. Coordination of the Concept is in the hands of the Ministry of the Interior of the CR, which each year also submits to the government a Report on the Implementation of the Concept. The updated Concept is based on an analysis of the current situation and of problems identified in the field of the integration of foreigners and it specifically outlines the goals of this policy.
An updated statement of specific tasks for implementing an integration policy is provided in the Government Resolution Living Together 2015.
The Ministry of the Interior (MI) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the CR regularly update their joint website Foreigners in the CR (http://wwww.cizinci.cz), which also provides access to Information Publications for foreigners in 7 language versions. The website provides access to necessary documents and contacts for state administration and foreigners and it provides necessary information for following a uniform process for achieving the integration of foreigners in the CR.
The Czech Statistical Office elaborates and publishes statistical data on the number of foreigners in the CR, their location in the regions, classification according to sex, citizenship, age, type and purpose of stay in the CR, asylum procedure of foreigners, their economic activity and other data. Statistics take into account only those foreigners residing legally in the CR.
The number of foreigners in the Czech Republic has been on the rise since 2008. In 2013 there were 441 500 foreign nationals living in the CR, making up 4.1% of the country’s population. The share of people from EU countries residing in the country has grown and the structure of types of residencehas changed. During 2013 the share of foreign nationals with permanent residence surpassed 50%. With some exceptions, the number of foreign nationals from countries outside the EU has been declining annually, especially from traditional source countries of labour migrants – Ukraine, Vietnam, and Moldova. Conversely, the number of EU citizens has been rising, chiefly from Slovakia, and they are partly replacing foreign nationals from outside EU countries in the labour market. The largest share of foreign nationals is in Prague, where 37% of the total number of foreigners documented in the CR reside, which is equal to 13% of the population of the capital.