Spain offers to pay cost of making Catalan language official in European Union

Some member states ask for more details and are "open" to negotiate, while others have "doubts"

EU Council summit on March 23, 2023
EU Council summit on March 23, 2023 / Council of the European Union
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Brussels

September 16, 2023 11:54 AM

The Spanish government could end up paying the cost of making the Catalan, Basque, and Galician languages officials in the European Union, as sources close to the negotiations told the Catalan News Agency (ACN) on Friday evening. 

During the day, EU ambassadors met to prepare for next Tuesday's meeting, where the Catalan language and other regional languages of Spain could start their process to become official languages in the EU. For this to happen, all member states —27— must unanimously vote in favor. However, some are doubtful about the political move, such as Sweden and Finland.

"Increasing the number of official languages and the workload would only cause a growth in the economic and administrative efforts of the EU, which would possibly also delay making decisions and therefore delaying regulations," the Finnish government said in a statement.

Finnish authorities believe it is "important to guarantee the cultural and linguistic diversity" of the European Union but consider there are other ways to promote co-official languages.

Sweden also expressed their "doubts" as they lacked enough information to decide.

Although the main contenders are Baltic countries, other states also asked for more information regarding the cost and the extent of the proposal. Most of the questions are focused on the cost and the administrative efforts that the EU will have to make to include three new official languages.

 All documents and websites since the first day of the Union would need to be translated into Catalan, Galician, and Basque.

Many ambassadors have asked for legal reports to have a broader view of the implications, even though they are "open" to negotiation, such as the German delegation, who considers it "difficult" to reach an agreement on September 19 but sees the meeting as "political will" to move forward. 

Greek diplomatic sources told ACN that they are open to "hearing" what Spanish acting foreign minister José Manuel Albares tells them but are also concerned about the "growing cost of translators and interpreters."

"We want for the negotiations to continue to be able to explore all the different aspects," the same sources added.

On the other hand, Ireland, also awaiting the "formal details" of the Spanish proposals, will decide based on their policy of defending the "linguistic pluralism." 

In 2007, Ireland asked for Irish to be official in the EU, and while at the beginning, all of the documents were not translated, the language became fully official on January 1, 2022.

Spain's request to make Catalan, Basque, and Galician official languages is part of a last-minute agreement by pro-independence parties to back a Socialist congressional speaker after the Spanish election.

Catalan government believe obstacles to be overcome

Sources from the Catalan government recognize that the process is "not easy" but believe "all obstacles will be overcome."

"The doubts that some countries have raised are among the already foreseen scenarios and do not change the strategy of the Catalan government made during the last weeks," these sources added.

The "priority is for the project not to fail through. We prefer for the process to be well done than fast," they said.

The same sources are urging the Spanish executive to "make all the efforts" for the negotiation to continue, as Spain currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union until December 31.