Constitution set to be translated into ‘unofficial’ EU languages

Catalan, Galician and Euskera versions of the EU’s brand new Constitutional Treaty are in the offing as the IGC sets the EU’s commitment to its “rich cultural and linguistic diversity” in stone.

Addressing the European Parliament in a speech about the
conclusions of the European Council, Spanish Prime Minister
Rodriguez Luis Zapatero has welcomed the "explicit recognition at
EU level of the value of all of the languages of Spain". He was
alluding to specific wording in the EU's new Constitution whereby
linguistic diversity in Europe beyond the EU's official languages
has been recognised at treaty level for the first time.

The text, which follows a Spanish proposal in May 2004 (see

), opens the door to future actions in
this area. It is widely believed that Spain would like citizens to
be able to communicate with the EU in their own language (if other
than Castilian) in future and would be prepared to pick up some of
the associated costs. The Catalan, Basque and Galician languages
have all been recognised in the Spanish Constitution since 1978.
The issue is a contentious one in Spain as arguments may be made
that the Constitution should also be translated into Valencian,
which is very close to Catalan.

Spain is not the only beneficiary as the agreement is that the
Constitutional Treaty can now be translated into any language with
official status in all or part of a Member States' territory. The
reference, to be included in article IV of the Treaty, adds that EU
countries are recommended to "communicate to the Council, within
six months from the date of the signature of the Treaty, the
language or languages into which translations of the Treaty will be

The IGC reasons that this "contributes to fulfilling the
objective of respecting the Union's rich cultural and linguistic
diversity as set forth in paragraph 3 of Article 1-3 of the

The move comes as the EU is struggling to find enough
translators and interpreters to cope with the addition of nine
extra official languages following enlargement.


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