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Spain will prioritize the use of Catalan in the EU after the reluctance of several States to include three languages ​​“at the same time” | Spain

The acting Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, this Tuesday in Brussels.
The acting Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, this Tuesday in Brussels.Pablo Garrigós (EFE)

The acting Government has considered it a mission accomplished this Tuesday in Brussels to ensure that Catalan, Basque and Galician become official languages ​​in the EU, having not been vetoed beforehand. Of course, as expected, the European partners They have asked for more time to analyze the legal, financial and even political consequences of a measure that requires unanimity and that they fear could have unforeseen implications in a territory with some 60 regional languages ​​and multiple internal tensions. In a last attempt to overcome reluctance, the acting Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, has announced that he has proposed prioritizing Catalan within the framework of a “gradual” implementation of the three languages ​​once they acquire official status, a process for which no one dares to set a deadline, or even venture whether it will finally work out.

“Some States have suggested that three languages ​​at once was more difficult (…). Transitional periods and the gradual nature of this measure have also been proposed and we have proposed starting its deployment first with Catalan and then with the other two languages,” explained Albares, after presenting the Spanish proposal, launched in August within the framework of the negotiations. with Junts and ERC to enable an eventual investiture of Pedro Sánchez.

The head of Spanish diplomacy has justified this choice by claiming that Catalan is “the language whose representatives have most insistently requested inclusion (…) and that it is spoken by more than 10 million people”, which places it, he insisted, , “among the top 15 languages ​​of the Union in number of inhabitants.” Even so, he has assured that the final objective does not change: “The end is clear, that Catalan, Basque and Galician form part of the European linguistic regime,” Albares stated.

The gesture has been received with nuances within the Catalan independence movement. “That no State has vetoed the proposal is good news, but it’s not enough. “Spain knows this, it knows that it has work pending and it knows that it must do it diligently, because the opportunity is now,” the former president of the Generalitat Carles Puigdemont, escaped in Brussels, implying that the agreements that allowed the Congress Board to be formed remain on track. From Barcelona, ​​the monochrome Catalan government of ERC has been more bitter and has regretted that it has not gone beyond the “commitment phase,” reports Camilo S. Baquero.

Meanwhile, other potential partners have openly shown their anger at the strategy of prioritizing Catalan. The PNV spokesperson in Congress, Aitor Esteban, has expressed his “disappointment” and has warned that this position “does not facilitate” a hypothetical investiture of Pedro Sánchez. The BNG has also said it sees discrimination against Galician and Basque.

Community sources defend a strategy that, they assure, does not change the original Spanish proposal in any way – the three languages, if their official status is approved, would do so at the same time, only that the implementation process would begin with Catalan – and they trust that this way has a “carry-over effect” in Galician and Basque. Prioritizing Catalan “benefits” the three co-official Spanish languages, insisting on an implementation of all of them en bloc “would have harmed all three,” they assert.

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“Today the Spanish Government has fulfilled its commitment, we have launched here, in Brussels, the reform of Regulation 1 of 1958 on the linguistic regime of the EU,” defended Albares.

In any case, we are still far from being able to plan how an officialization of these languages ​​would be implemented. As several European countries had anticipated, even those most inclined to “listen” to the Spanish proposal this Tuesday, considered in advance that it was too “early” to vote on a decision that requires unanimity. Hence, it was decided to give more time to work on all the questions raised today, without a deadline.

“Constructive discussion”

“There has been a constructive discussion and the presidency takes note of everyone’s willingness to continue working to resolve the issues raised to include Catalan, Basque and Galician” as official languages ​​of the EU, the secretary of State for the EU, Pascual Navarro, who chaired the event held under the current Spanish presidency of the EU. The idea is now that the issue continues to be worked on at the level of ambassadors in Brussels and in working groups, with the idea that the issue returns to a General Affairs Council at the level of ministers, although on a date that no one wants to set yet. .

In this first phase, “the votes do not matter, the vetoes matter”, underline the community sources, who point out that although the atmosphere at the headquarters of the EU Council was mostly “constructive”, there was a last-minute surprise: Italy, which had not expressed its rejection until now, was in the closed-door meeting of ministers the “most negative” country of the Twenty-seven to the Spanish proposal, although in the end it did not prevent it from going ahead, nor did either Sweden or Finland, the other conservative governments that had been publicly “reluctant” to the proposal.

Another of the big doubts was France, historically opposed to making regional languages ​​official due to its own internal conflicts with independence movements such as Corsican or Breton. But upon arrival at the meeting, the French Secretary of State for the EU, Laurence Boone, declared herself willing to look for ways to “accommodate” the Spanish proposal, although she agreed with other countries “open” to the initiative, such as Germany. , in which more time was needed to clarify the legal, financial and even operational doubts shared by a good part of the European partners.

In addition to prioritizing Catalan, Albares ratified this Tuesday before European ministers Spain’s willingness to assume the costs of the measure. He has also defended the “specificity of the Spanish linguistic constitutional regime, which makes it practically unique within the EU”, as well as the fact that “these languages ​​are used within the Spanish Parliament”, in reference to the fact that This Tuesday, the Congress of Deputies began to allow the use of co-official languages in a plenary session. Likewise, Albares has rejected the concept of “minority languages”, remembering that these are languages, especially Catalan, “that are spoken by millions of people”.

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