European Parliament to study use of Spanish language in Catalan schools

Committee on Petitions will send envoy during second semester of 2023

A primary school class in Espai 3 school on September 5, 2022 (by Gerard Escaich Folch)
A primary school class in Espai 3 school on September 5, 2022 (by Gerard Escaich Folch) / Cristina Tomàs White & Gerard Escaich Folch

ACN | @agenciaacn | Brussels

October 25, 2022 04:24 PM

October 25, 2022 05:44 PM

The European Parliament Committee on Petitions will send a mission to Catalonia during the second semester of 2023. The team will study the use of the Spanish language in Catalan schools after the parties forming the committee greenlighted the trip.

The members of the envoy, its agenda, and the dates will be announced in future meetings, after Dolors Montserrat, the committee's president and former Spanish health minister under the People's Party government between 2016 and 2018, announced the official mission on Tuesday.

The trip will take place between July and December 2023, as there are local elections in May.

Ciudadanos, the right-wing party from Spain that proposed the petition believes the trip will take place the last month of the year.

The different party coordinators already reached the first deal in September assuring that the mission would take place. 

While the trip dates are unknown, some MEPs may travel to Catalonia, as is usual in these missions, to interview some of the parties involved in the topic. When traveling, members of the European Parliament tend to arrange meetings with civil society groups, politicians, and organizations. 

A debate has also been scheduled for the first semester of 2023, where several parties will discuss about Catalonia's immersion system

25% of Spanish language quota

The trip will study the use of the Spanish language in Catalan schools after the Spanish Supreme Court implemented a 25% Spanish quota in schools.

The Catalan government has been challenging the decision even including new measures to protect the use of Catalan in schools, a decree passed by the Catalan government and a law passed in Parliament

These new measures establish Catalan as the primary working language in schools but consider Spanish "curricular" without setting strict quotas for each. Instead, schools should determine how much teaching is done in each language according to their so-called "linguistic projects."

Catalan language immersion system

Catalonia has a decades-long policy of language immersion, ie. teaching in Catalan. As Spanish is the dominant language in the media and online, the education policy is designed to protect the Catalan language, ensure bilingualism, and avoid the creation of separate language communities.

An education law passed by Spain's conservative People's Party government in 2015 was the starting point of a legal battle that ended up in Spain's Supreme Court and led to the High Court decision in January 2022 confirming that Catalan schools had two months to teach 25% of classes in Spanish.

The Catalan government and Parliament then passed measures to avoid having to enforce this ruling, but these were challenged in Spain's Constitutional Court by conservative and far-right parties.

The court is yet to decide on the matter, meaning that, for now, the immersion system remains in place in most schools across Catalonia, but a High Court ruling from September could open the door to schools attempting to implement similar 25% Spanish language quotas. 

Filling the Sink podcast

Press play below to listen to a Filling the Sink podcast episode from March 2022 about the immersion system in Catalan schools.