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About the Mercator European Research Centre

The Mercator European Research Centre is hosted by the Fryske Akademy (Frisian Academy), the centre for scientific research on all aspects of Frisian language, history and culture. The Fryske Akademy is affiliated with the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW) and is a part of the institute and research organization of the KNAW.

The Mercator European Research Centre is part of the European Mercator Network.


The mission of the Mercator European Research Centre is the acquisition and inventory, research and study, dissemination and application of knowledge in the field of language learning at school, at home and through cultural participation. Its work is mostly focused on the regional and minority languages in Europe, but immigrant languages and smaller state languages are also topics of study. 

The Mercator European Research Centre is situated in the minority-language province of Fryslân. As a research institute, the centre wants to make use of the excellent opportunities the Frisian situation has to offer as a living laboratory on multilingualism. At the same time, Mercator makes state-of-the-art research and interesting developments from other minority-language regions available to relevant stakeholders in Fryslân. In other words, the Mercator European Research Centre brings Fryslân to Europe and Europe to Fryslân. 


Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning began in 1987 as Mercator Education, one of the three institutions of the Mercator Network. The foundation of the Mercator Network was initiated by the European Commission and the direct result of two resolutions by the European Parliament: the ‘Kuijpers resolution’ (Resolution on the languages and cultures of regional and ethnic minorities in the European Community) and the 'Arfé resolution'. 

In the following 20 years the network was subsidized through earmarked funding (sometimes matched by host organisations in regional and minority language regions, such as the Fryske Akademy). After an extension funding programme called 'action programme' in 2004 – 2006, this earmarked funding ended. Currently, Mercator European Research Centre receives an annual subsidy from the province of Fryslân, which funds part of the day-to-day operations. A substantial part of the work is financed through temporary project funding.


For those interested in minority language (education), Mercator European Research Centre has various products on offer: 

Activity report

In an extensive activity report on the years 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, the Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning is looking back on its activities. Mercator categorised its work in so called ‘product groups’ to fulfil the demands for what is called the framework of ‘boekjiersubsydzje’ (subsidy) of the province of Fryslân. For the period 2017-2020, the following seven product groups were used: 1) Library and information; 2) Networks; 3) Regional Dossiers and Research; 4) Communication and publications; 5) Activities; 6) Acquisition and matching projects; 7) Europeesk Buro foar Lytse Talen (EBLT).
The Activity Report 2017-2020 is available as download

About the images on the home page

Map of Europe from the Atlas sive Cosmographicae

This image comes from the 'Atlas sive Cosmographicae Meditationes de Fabrica Mundi et Fabrica Figura' that was made by the Fleming Gerardus Mercator (1512 – 1594) and published after his death in 1595. Gerardus Mercator was a cartographer, geographer and cosmographer. He developed the Mercator projection, still widely used today.

The Concourse of Birds

Painted by Habiballah of Sava (active ca. 1590–1610, Iran). The illustration depicts a scene from a mystical poem, Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds), written by a twelfth-century Iranian, Farid al-Din 'Attar. The birds, which symbolize individual souls in search of the simurgh (a mystical bird representing ultimate spiritual unity), are assembled in an idyllic landscape to begin their pilgrimage under the leadership of a hoopoe (perched on a rock at center right) (source: Metropolitan Museum of Art).