Catalan push for EU language status backed by Madrid

The regional government in Catalonia is set to launch a major campaign in Madrid and Brussels to have the Catalan language recognised as an official language of the European Union.

As featured in Euraktiv, the announcement was made by Catalan Regional President Pere Aragonès on Thursday.

“Next week, we begin a second level in this offensive to defend Catalan as an official language in the EU,” he said.

The dual strategy of politics and language will be taken to EU ambassadors in Spain, whilst the domestic deadlock continues.

In what is an unlikely partnership, this initiative has received backing in recent weeks from Madrid with acting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s seeking to remain in office.

He needs the support of Catalan nationalists to form a government and official status for the Catalan language is one of the demands to shore up his numbers. Negotiations will continue in the coming weeks but if there is no breakthrough, a fresh general election will need to be held in January 2024.

The current impasse in Spanish politics is the result of an inconclusive national election in July.

What are the Catalans demanding to support the socialist leader Sanchez?

Encouraged by the leverage that they hold, Aragonès, of the separatist Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) party has led his bloc to the table with a list of demands.

In order for their support to reappoint Sánchez, they want full recognition for the Catalan language in the Spanish parliament as well as within the EU. The former has already been secured, but the latter is a hard sell to the European bloc as it would require unanimous backing of all 27 member states.

Other wishes include a commitment to a referendum on independence for Catalonia, an amnesty decree on the 2017 secession bid in addition to further devolution powers for the region.

National Day antagonism?

Aragonès met the former EU Commission president Romano Prodi in Bologna, Italy on Thursday, October 12, which is Spain’s National Day.

It is no surprise that the Catalans snubbed the celebration of the Spanish nation, the flag and centralism for obvious reasons.

Aragonès opined that his absence from the national events was due to what is a commemoration “based on armies” and the concept of a  “Spanish State with a single thought with a single language and a single culture”.

Meanwhile, in Madrid, Pedro Sánchez was greeted with a chorus of boos at the National Day military parade, due to his ongoing alliance with the Catalans.

Backlash from Brussels

On the language push, EU nationals have the right to use any of the entity’s 24 official languages to communicate with its institutions and further to that, all EU laws, proposals and decisions – past, present and future – have to be translated into all official languages.

If Catalan receives that recognition, there would be a huge cost running into many millions with a further potential domino effect.

EU beaks will be aware of other minorities and language groups in Spain and elsewhere in Europe who will consider a precedent set and demand the same parity.

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Written by

Graeme Hanna

Graeme is a freelance writer based in Belfast, Northern Ireland who has been writing full-time for the last three years. He specialises in football and Rangers FC in particular, as well as being on top of news and trending matters. His work has been published in titles such as Rangers Review, Give Me Sport, Manchester Evening News, MyLondon and the Belfast News Letter.