'Many unanswered questions' over EU adoption of Catalan, Basque and Galician 

Vote on making languages official unlikely to happen at Tuesday's meeting of foreign ministers 

EU General Affairs Council meeting includes proposal to make Catalan, Basque and Galician official langauges
EU General Affairs Council meeting includes proposal to make Catalan, Basque and Galician official langauges / Albert Cadanet

ACN | @agenciaacn | Brussels/Madrid

September 18, 2023 07:05 PM

September 18, 2023 07:11 PM

The Spanish government's proposal that Catalan, Basque and Galician be recognized as official languages of the European Union will be debated at a meeting of foreign ministers on Tuesday. 

While the provisional agenda for the meeting includes the adoption of the proposal, various diplomatic sources consider a vote unlikely, due to doubts from various delegations - economic, legal and political, with fears of a ripple effect in other regional languages. There are still "many unanswered questions," the sources say. 

They do note, however, that there was no outright opposition to the proposal at a meeting at the ambassadorial level on Friday, and that Tuesday's General Affairs Council meeting should see "constructive discussion." 

The proposal to legally change the language policy of the EU is an issue that requires unanimous support from the 27 member states. 

Several European states are asking for the process to be slowed down while doubts are resolved, while the Spanish government intended to bring the initiative to a vote on Tuesday, following a debate. 

The fact that the Spanish government has offered to take on the cost of making the three languages official has reassured some countries most reluctant to increase EU spending, including Germany, the Netherlands and Austria. 

"This makes it easier for some governments to accept it," the sources say. The Spanish delegation has not yet said what the cost of making the three languages official would be. 

Meanwhile, the European Language Equality Network (ELEN), asked the 27 member states to demonstrate "respect for linguistic diversity" by supporting the official adoption of Catalan, Basque and Galician. 

"We ask all the member states to support European values and equality," ELEN Secretary-General Davyth Hicks said at a press conference on Monday. 

The network counts Catalonia's Òmnium Cultural and Plataforma per la Llengua (Platform for the Language) among its members. 

Catalan, Basque and Galician in Congress 

Tuesday will also see history being made in the Spanish Congress in Madrid, where for the first time it will be possible to use Catalan, Basque and Galician without risking a reprimand or expulsion from the congressional speaker. 

As a result of the agreement reached by parliamentary groups for the election of the Congress Bureau, a simultaneous translation system will be enabled on Tuesday which, according to a Congress source, is starting to work with a team of six certified interpreters and 200 headsets, available for MPs who request them. 

Two giant screens already used in the chamber and will offer subtitles. 

Soon, Congress plans to buy 250 more headsets to reach a total of 450, to be made available for MPs, press and staff. 

The six translators who will work from tomorrow are part of a group of 12.

According to the Congress source, all are self-employed and earn between €80 and €100 an hour. 

They will work remotely, with the system's maximum delay calculated at four seconds. 

The parliamentary groups that put forward the initiative will speak first, ie the Socialists, left-wing Sumar, Catalan pro-indepence ERC, the Basque Country's EAJ-PNV and Bildu, and BNG from Galicia.