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25th Feb 2024

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Spain's EU-language bid and UN summit This WEEK

  • Spain has used the EU Council presidency to put on the agenda a debate to make Catalan, Basque and Galician an official EU language (Photo: European Union)
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EU ministers in charge of European affairs will gather in Brussels on Tuesday (19 October) to prepare for the next summit of EU leaders in October. They will also discuss the latest European Commission's rule-of-law report.

Spain, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, has put a debate on the agenda over its official request to make Catalan, Basque, and Galician into official EU languages.

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If successful, such a decision would help prime minister Pedro Sánchez to secure support from Catalan separatist parties to form a government and avoid repeated elections.

Although Spain aims to adopt a decision on Tuesday, the process behind such an agreement tends to be methodical and slow — and some countries such as Ireland, Sweden, and Finland have already raised concerns over the cost and legal implications of such a decision.

"We believe that it needs to be investigated more thoroughly what the legal and financial consequences of the proposal are," the Swedish government warned in a statement.

Instead of at the ministerial level, an EU diplomat told EUobserver that this issue should be discussed in the working group and "the effects should be assessed."

Spanish Greens' MEP Ana Miranda, a member of the Galician Nationalist Bloc, will hold a press conference on the same topic on Monday (18 September).

Also on Monday, MEPs will discuss the human-rights situation in Iran with UN Special Rapporteur Javaid Rehman, one year after the death of Mahsa Amini.

Amini died in a hospital in Tehran after being arrested for ignoring Iran's veiling laws. Her death sparked widespread protests in the country and beyond.

Meanwhile, EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen, along with a group of commissioners, EU Council president Charles Michel and EU parliament president Roberta Metsola will be in New York this week to attend the UN General Assembly.

The world summit will take place amid high tensions resulting from Russia's war in Ukraine, coups in the Sahel region in Africa, and strained relations between the EU and China.

EPP and agriculture

EU agriculture ministers will meet on Monday to discuss a recent EU proposal to restore and protect soils, the situation regarding imports of Ukraine grain, and fishing opportunities for 2024.

Manfred Weber, the head of the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), the largest group in the European Parliament, will present its vision for agriculture on Tuesday.

Ahead of next year's European elections, the EPP has portrayed itself as the party of farmers and rural interests — leading opposition against key policies such as pesticide reductions and nature restoration law.

Meanwhile, the parliament's environment committee on Wednesday (19 September) will vote on their report on urban wastewater rules — to update the current wastewater treatment directive, dating back to 1991.

If approved, a plenary vote is expected in October.

Sakharov Prize

Also on Wednesday, MEPs in various committees will present the candidates for this year's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the special prize the parliament gives out each year to a person or an organisation.

On the same day, MEPs in the committee of constitutional affairs will have a debate with several experts about the upcoming European election and EU treaties.

Meanwhile, several Spanish ministers will be in Brussels this week to debate the priorities of the EU Council presidency.

MEPs from the security committee will hear the priorities of the EU Spanish presidency from its defence minister Margarita Robles on Monday. Later on Tuesday, they will hold a discussion with a defence advisor to missile-maker the MBDA Group.

Also on Tuesday, MEPs in the agriculture committee will have a debate with Spanish agriculture minister Luis Planas. Spain aims to reach a preliminary compromise on the use of new genomic techniques in agriculture by the end of the year.

Spanish minister for gender issues Irene Montero will brief MEPs over the presidency priories on Tuesday.

Nadia Calviño, Spanish economy minister and one of the candidates to lead the European Investment Bank, will also have an exchange of views with MEPs on Wednesday.

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