Wednesday

14th Nov 2018

Catalan, Basque and Galician get EU language boost

EU citizens speaking Catalan, Basque or Galician can now communicate with the European Parliament in their own language, after a small majority in the parliament agreed to the move.

The vote cast by parliament president Josep Borrell was determined when seven out of 14 vice-presidents in the parliament's so-called "bureau" voted in favour, while the rest voted against the move in a meeting in Strasbourg on Monday (3 July).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Basque, Catalan or Galician- speaking EU citizens can now send a letter to MEPs in their own language (Photo: European Commission)

The decision will allow citizens of the five autonomous regions where the three languages are spoken to direct their letters to the parliament and to receive answers in their own language.

The deal does not cover language use in parliament plenary sessions or in the lawmakers' committee meetings however.

A previous vote in April on the same subject rejected acceptance of the Spanish regional languages with seven of the parliament vice-presidents voting against six in favour.

The centre-right EPP has been against the move to use the Spanish semi-official languages in the parliament.

Barcelona welcomed the decision

The Catalan government based in Barcelona welcomed the decision of the parliament.

"[It] implies a historical step for the country and for all the Catalans in the sense that we are now able to address ourselves in our language to this European institution," said president of the Catalan government Pasqual Maragall in a statement.

Any kind of communication sent to the parliament in any of the three languages will be translated by the institution's translation services to guarantee confidentiality while all costs will be covered by Spain.

Spanish citizens already have their right to write and receive replies in their own regional language in the European Commission and the council - the member states' decision-making body.

However, the languages fell short of attaining a full EU official language status like Irish (Gaelic) which will become an official EU language by 1 January 2007.

There are 1.6 million Irish speakers while far less use the language on a daily basis, according to official figures released in Dublin in 2004.

Basque, or Euskera, is spoken by around 1 million people in the Basque country in northern Spain and in bordering France.

Catalan is used by as many as 10 million people and is co-official in the Spanish autonomous regions of the Balearic Islands, Catalonia and Valencia.

It is also the official language of the Pyrenean mini state of Andorra and is spoken in some areas of France and Italy.

Galician is spoken by 3 to 4 million people in Spain's north-western region of Galicia and has similarities to Portuguese.

Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army

Angela Merkel's much-anticipated speech to the European Parliament was brief and to the point. Her message: Europe is alone in the world, the EU should be more united on defence, but not on the economy.

EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure

EU ministers' discussion on how to address rule of law issues in Poland and Hungary gets stuck on procedural issues, while Viktor Orban's government claims it is a target of the Brussels elite because of its anti-migration stance.

EU's centre-right make Weber their man to replace Juncker

The centre-right EPP party's congress wanted to show unity - but divisions remain after the political alliance lined up behind Germany's Manfred Weber as their 'Spitzenkandidat' ahead of next year's European election.

News in Brief

  1. Draft Brexit deal on London cabinet agenda on Wednesday
  2. EU proposes no visa for UK citizens after Brexit
  3. EU parliament 'deeply concerned' on Romania judiciary
  4. Macedonia's ex-PM flees to Hungary, seeks asylum
  5. Cyprus opens first new border crossings in eight years
  6. Putin's Austrian dance partner cancels Moscow visit
  7. Political deadlock over Sweden Democrat influence
  8. Court: Catalan referendum organisers must repay costs

Opinion

On Armistice Day, EU is still best gift we can give our children

While young people fought each other in 1918, young people in 2018 travel to study together under the Erasmus programme. But there is a risk of limiting our commemoration to representing the past through just speeches, museum exhibits and visits.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  2. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline
  3. EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure
  4. EU unable to fully trace €1bn spent on refugees in Turkey
  5. Romanian leaders trade jibes over upcoming EU presidency
  6. EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press
  7. EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name
  8. Fear of nationalist surge marks European memorials

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us