Spain floats idea to give special status to minority EU languages

The Spanish government’s bid for minority languages such as
Catalan, Galician or Euskera to have a special status in the
European Constitution comes as the EU struggles to assimilate nine
extra languages.

The Spanish government is in the early stages of a bid for minority
languages - such as Catalan, Galician or Euskera - to be given
special status in the Constitution. The broad thrust of the
proposal appears to be that the EU would recognise minority
languages whilst Member States would pick up the associated costs
in, for example, having the Constitution translated into these
languages. 

In practice this would mean that such minority languages would
have a similar status to the one enjoyed by Irish, which is not an
official EU language. All EU treaties are translated into Irish and
citizens can write into the institutions in the language.

Reacting to EURACTIV, Mr Dell'Alba (Unattached MEP, Italy) said
that "it seems to be more of an internal [Spanish] problem than a
European one". The draftsman of a report on the problems facing the
Parliament with regard to multilingualism (see

EURACTIV 19
March
) went on to say that "if Member States want to give
official regional languages more dignity this should not make a
great deal of difference to the EU, all the more so because Spain
has never raised this kind of problem before. If it’s a purely
symbolic statute then it has more political value internally than
at European level as it would not change the status of the existing
official and working languages of the EU, which remain
unchanged." 

According to the Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo, French
Foreign Affairs Minister Michel Barnier has distanced himself from
the Spanish proposal, underlining the need "to avoid the re-opening
of difficult issues" in the final stages of negotiations on the
European Constitution.

The move comes hot on the heels of the EU's most ambitious ever
'linguistic enlargement' as it nearly doubles in size from eleven
to twenty official EU languages.

 

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