Recognition of Catalan as official EU language debate returns amid European elections

Spanish government announces increase of understanding among EU Member States to continue with process

Someone points out the plan of the EU General Affairs committee on September 19, 2023
Someone points out the plan of the EU General Affairs committee on September 19, 2023 / Albert Cadanet
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

May 29, 2024 05:41 PM

May 30, 2024 01:17 PM

Catalan as an official language in the EU is an old demand of pro-independence parties. In August 2023, pro-independence Junts made a deal with the Spanish socialist party to make it possible, in return, they backed a socialist candidate as speaker of the Spanish congress, Francina Armengol. 

Since then, it's been eight months since the Spanish government proposed to the Council of the European Union that Catalan, Galician and Basque be granted official status in the EU, but the proposal remains blocked. 

Junts' candidate in the June 9 European elections, Toni Comín, shifted the focus to include Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in the campaign, asking him to get involved in the blocked negotiations to make Catalan official in the European institutions.

"There is a moment when negotiations of this magnitude need the direct involvement of the heads of government: there are issues that, as we know very well, are always closed between the heads of government, and this is a card that the Spanish government has not yet used," MEP candidate Toni Comín said.

To show that it's an important issue for Junts, the first act of the political campaign organized in Brussels was dedicated to Catalan in the EU. 

But Junts is not the only one pushing with Catalan. The pro-independence Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) party has included it in its electoral program and is also rallying to see Catalan in the EU and to put pressure on the Spanish Socialist party.

Catalan acting foreign minister Meritxell Serret and member of Esquerra shared a public chat with José Manuel Albares, Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister and member of the Spanish Socialist Party, where Serret urged the Spanish government to "use all diplomatic capacity and efficiency" to continue "taking firm steps" for the officialization of Catalan.

The Spanish government reaffirms its support for getting official Catalan recognition in the UE, but it needs unanimous support from all 27 member states.

The Secretary of State of the EU, Marcos Sampedro assures the understanding of partners is growing more and more, said. Even that, there's no date to get it. 

States blocking

In September last year, the Spanish government and Catalan pro-independence parties joined forces in an attempt to make Catalan official in the EU during Spain's presidency. 

However, the proposal faced setbacks as it was met with skepticism from several member states, particularly regarding its legal, political and economic implications, and the issue eventually stalled

The EU presidency passed to Belgium at the turn of the year, but despite Belgium's intention to move the proposal forward, discussions were once again postponed due to a lack of progress in assessing its impact.   

Catalan Foreign Minister Meritxell Serret has already held informal talks with Hungary, the next rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, to ensure that efforts to make Catalan an official EU language continue.

The proposal to change the EU's language policy requires unanimous support from all 27 member states, and while no European state has outright vetoed it, doubts remain, especially in countries with other minority languages, such as Lithuania or Finland. 

In addition, an economic analysis by the European Commission and a legal report by the Council are required

Catalan in European Parliament

Apartfrom the official recognition, Catalan could be used in the European Parliament if the majority of the European Parliament Bureau votes in favor, which means seven vice presidents.  

But the Socialist Group and the Greens - European Free Alliance don't have that majority and it looks like the new Parliament will be dominated by right-wing MEPs who don't support the initiative.