MEP launches appeal to make Welsh official EU language
Pressure is mounting on the EU to reconsider the status of regional and minority languages and introduce translation and interpretation for Welsh, Catalan and Basque. MEP Jill Evans from the Pro-Welsh independence party Plaid Cymru launched an appeal on 3 June to make Welsh a co-official language in the European Parliament.
Evans says she wants to have the linguistic rights of her fellow countrymen recognised by the EU institutions. She insists that the Welsh should be able to communicate, notably with the European Parliament, in their national language.
She wants to prove that people and organisations would use Welsh to communicate with EU institutions if they had the opportunity to do so and that there is real demand for Welsh language facilities.
The appeal calls upon individuals and institutions in Wales to win official recognition of Welsh at European level: “I’ve been campaigning for several years,” Ms. Evans said. “I welcome the support I’ve received from many organisations and individuals,” she added.
While negotiations are currently underway between the Welsh government and the EU Council on the status of Welsh language and translation, other linguistic minorities in the EU are becoming increasingly vocal. The Spanish government and regional authorities are making similar demands for Catalan and Basque.Catalan, spoken in Spain, Andorra, Southern France and in an enclave in Sardinia, is an important regional language in the Western Mediterranean. With close to seven million native speakers, it is also more widely spoken than several of the European Union’s official languages.
The EU nowadays has 23 official languages. After the accession of Bulgaria in January 2007, the Cyrillic alphabet is also used in EU official documents next to the Latin and Greek ones: a visible testimony to the continent’s diversity. While the EU says it is committed to safeguarding its linguistic diversity and to offering citizen-friendly communication in the member states’ official languages, the status of minority and regional languages is remains a controversial issue. Part of the controversy is linked to the costs of translation and interpretation. €511 million were spent in 2005 to cover language facilities in EU institutions, while last year a report by former Finnish MEP Alexander Stubb questioned the need to have every EU document translated into lesser-spoken languages such as Finnish, Swedish and Maltese.