One of the European Parliament Vice Presidents considers Catalonia a model for linguistic minority rights

László T?kés, from the Hungarian minority in Romania and member of the European People’s Party, supports the “linguistic rights” of minorities in front of a European Union “sometimes too ignorant”. “I don’t like integration being replaced by assimilation”, he stated.

CNA / Núria Julià

July 14, 2011 12:55 AM

Brussels (ACN).- Lászlço T?kés, one of the 14 Vice Presidents of the European Parliament, backed the campaign in favour of products being labelled in Catalan. The campaign has been promoted by a Catalan beer company –Moritz– which sent a lorry to Brussels, with a beer bottle for each MEP. On the packaging it was written “Drinking a Catalan beer is drinking a European beer”. Last week, the European Parliament approved a new rule by which Member States can impose that all the products sold in its territory must be labelled in at least one official European Union language (without imposing which one). As Catalan is not an EU official language, but it is official in a territory with more than 12 million inhabitants, selling products labelled only in Catalan might be illegal in Catalonia, but a product labelled only in German or Swedish could be legal. T?kes considers that the new rule does not respect linguistic rights of minorities within the European Union. Even though the new rule leaves Member States to decide to implement this part of the rule. The Spanish Government has already stated that it will not implement it, however the fact is that in the future the Spanish Government can change its mind and that linguistic rights of Catalan producers and consumers are less secure now than before the European Parliament approved the new rule. T?kés, from the Hungarian minority in Romania, qualified as “a model” for other linguistic minorities the practice authorised in Catalonia to let producers label their products only in Catalan. T?kés, member of the European People’s Party (EPP), stated that “the European Union is sometimes too intolerant and forgets about the rights” of minorities. “I don’t like integration being replaced by assimilation”, Vice President T?kés concluded.

With a Moritz beer bottle in his hands, T?kés explained that Catalonia is “a model” for other linguistic minorities in Europe. The case of Moritz “reminds me about a beer from Transylvania that is not allowed to print its label in Hungarian”, he explained. T?kés received representatives from Moritz, which sent a beer bottle labelled in Catalan to all the MEPs as a protest for last week’s rule.

László T?kes pointed out that Catalonia is a reference regarding “autonomy” and linguistic rights” in Europe. The EPP politician explained that he is working with other representatives from minority groups to fight together to reach greater levels of autonomy and protection of minority rights. “We are fighting for an integration status that enables those communities to keep their identity”, he added.

László T?kés was one of the people behind the 1989 revolution that ended Ceausescu’s dictatorial regime in Romania. He is an Evangelist minister and he was persecuted by the dictatorship, and he even suffered an assassination attempt. Protests to support his pastoral action in Timisoara in December 1989, which ended with a massacre by Ceausescu’s militia, were one of the revolution’s triggers.