Row in Brussels over 'linguistic discrimination' in Catalonia
Pro-independence MEP denies unionist Societat Civil Catalana’s allegations of “violations” of Spanish speakers’ rights
Two associates of a civic organization against Catalan independence have condemned in the European Parliament what they call “linguistic discrimination” in Catalonia. Societat Civil Catalana associate Carlos Silva complained to the European Parliament Petitions Committee about fines issued to businesses over signage, while Ana Losada petitioned the committee about the “effects” of the linguistic immersion system in schools. The committee hears petitions by EU citizens and attempts to solve the complaints with mediation and, if necessary, legal action. Pro-independence ERC representative responded by denying "any type of discrimination" in schools.
In their appearance before the committee, Silva and Losada called on EU institutions to get involved in what they argue is a case of the “violation of rights” of Spanish speakers. While the committee head admitted their petitions, representatives of the European Commission later said that the issues covered by the petitions come under the “member state jurisdiction.” However, a letter will be sent to the Catalan authorities reminding them that in 2015 the Supreme Court ruled that 25% of classes had to be in Spanish should a pupil demand it.
"Catalan society is in a difficult situation and it is the least opportune moment to bring this debate up here"
Soledad Cabezón · Socialist Spanish MEP
MEP for the ERC party, Josep Maria Terricabras, responded by denying “any type of discrimination” and he pointed out that the linguistic immersion policy in schools was voted for by Spain’s ruling People’s Party. Terricabras also said that the system has been “widely applauded by international organizations,” including the European Union. The MEP also referred to the PISA report, which assesses educational achievement around the world, and which says that children in Catalonia “end up with better Spanish than the average children in Spain.”
Criticism to petitioners
During the debate in the chamber, some MEPs were critical of the moment chosen by the petitioners to raise their concerns with Brussels. “Catalan society is in a difficult situation and it is the least opportune moment to bring this debate up here,” said Socialist MEP Soledad Cabezón, who declared that Spain is “culturally rich.” Yet, Silva insisted that Spanish speakers in Catalonia feel “discriminated against,” while Losada justified her trip to Brussels as a representative to voice the concerns “of many parents” in Catalonia who are Spanish speakers.