Court raises doubts about legality of legislation to counter 25% Spanish quota in schools

Magistrates ask prosecutors if decree and law approved in Catalonia should be taken to the Constitutional Court

A class at Frederic Godàs primary school, Lleida, September 13, 2021 (by Salvador Miret)
A class at Frederic Godàs primary school, Lleida, September 13, 2021 (by Salvador Miret) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

July 4, 2022 12:02 PM

The Catalan High Court (TSJC) has raised doubts about the legality of the legislation approved by the Catalan government and parliament in order to counter the 25% Spanish quota imposed by the judiciary.

In a decree published on Monday, the TSJC asked all parties in the judicial procedure, including private and public prosecutors, whether the decree and law in force should be taken to the Constitutional Court.

They will all have ten days to have their say on the issue before a decision is made. 

After a years-long set of judicial procedures, on November 23, 2021, the Spanish Supreme Court ruled that all Catalan schools were obliged to introduce Spanish in 25% of lessons, thus putting an end to a four-decade-long Catalan language immersion system in schools. 

The Catalan court's statement also read the law and decree approved in Catalonia roughly a month ago "determine the legal impossibility to execute the sentence ordered" by the same court and ratified by the Supreme Court. This is what could make both pieces of legislation illegal from a Spanish constitutional point of view. 

On May 30, the Catalan government approved a decree in which "not applying" strictly such percentage is explicitly stated.

A few days later, on June 8, a majority of MPs in Parliament greenlighted a law that still considers Catalan the working language in classrooms while establishing Spanish as a "curricular" language, without explicitly mentioning the quotas.

The Assembly for a Bilingual School (AEB), a group that fights for schools to give lessons in Catalan as well as Spanish, requested to the courts that it be declared that there is no legal impossibility to execute the 25% quota and denounced that the minister of education, Josep González-Cambray, has not complied with the ruling.

The Catalan government responded to the AEB requesting that the group accepts that the 25% Spanish quota in classrooms cannot be fulfilled, and that it recognises that the government's decree guarantees that students will leave school with a complete grasp of both languages. 

Education minister claims victory

Catalonia's Minister for Education, Josep Gonzàlez Cambray, celebrated the news which arrived from the High Court on Monday morning.

"It's a first victory and great news, it's the first step for 25% of Spanish to be applied in any classroom. What this victory today does is strengthen the Catalan school model," he said.

When asked about the issue of unconstitutionality raised by the TSJC on the Catalan decree and law that were passed in response to the ruling that imposed 25% of classes be given in Spanish, Cambray recalled that the Council of Statutory Guarantees endorsed the new legislation.

When asked about the probable issue of unconstitutionality, the minister responded that all parties must "follow the legal procedures that must be followed," and repeated his satisfaction with the resolution given on Monday, which will allow that next year nothing will change, he claims.

"What we did is what we said we would do. We said that we would provide a legal shield for all departments so that they would not have any kind of risk and continue to do the work they know how to do." the minister concluded.