Saturday

24th Jul 2021

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

MEPs to declare EU an LGBTI 'freedom zone'

The symbolic move is an attempt to buttress against right-wing governments' increased scapegoating of LGBTI people, particularly in Poland and Hungary.

Analysis

Relief in EPP group, as Orbán's party finally leaves

The debate over Fidesz had become an unbearable political burden on EPP - but it also represented a core dilemma for many centre-right, mainstream parties struggling to deal with their populist challengers.

EPP group moves forward to suspend Orban's Fidesz

MEPs are scheduled to vote on Wednesday to change the rules of procedure of the centre-right European People's Party parliamentary group to allow the suspension of a member party.

News in Brief

  1. Macron changes phone after Pegasus spyware revelations
  2. Italy to impose 'vaccinated-only' entry on indoor entertainment
  3. EU 'will not renegotiate' Irish protocol
  4. Brussels migrants end hunger strike
  5. Elderly EU nationals in UK-status limbo after missed deadline
  6. WHO: 11bn doses needed to reach global vaccination target
  7. EU to share 200m Covid vaccine doses by end of 2021
  8. Spain ends outdoor mask-wearing despite surge

EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map

The European Commission has proposed additional measures to limit non-essential travel within and to the European Union - amid fears over more transmissible mutations triggering a new surge in cases across the bloc.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Far left and right MEPs less critical of China and Russia
  2. Why is offshore wind the 'Cinderella' of EU climate policy?
  3. Open letter from 30 embassies ahead of Budapest Pride
  4. Orbán counters EU by calling referendum on anti-LGBTI law
  5. Why aren't EU's CSDP missions working?
  6. Romania most keen to join eurozone
  7. Slovenia risks court over EU anti-graft office
  8. Sweden's gang and gun violence sets politicians bickering

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us