The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, Jose Manuel Albares, will participate again this Tuesday in a meeting of the General Affairs Council of the EU. Normally, ministers delegate assistance in this format to the Secretary of State for the EU, but as happened last month, the Government wants to demonstrate to Catalan independence supporters that its commitment to the use of Catalan, Basque and Galician in the European institutions are serious.
The topic is parked. Albares, after his promise in August to Carles Puigdemont, sent a letter to the rotating presidency (that is, to himself) and to the general secretary of the Council to put the question of languages on the agenda of the September meeting, and he did so, in a “disproportionate” way, according to sources European elections, with a motion for debate and approval. That is, with the hope, or at least that’s how they wanted it to appear, that it would be resolved once and for all. It was absolutely impossible. It is a major, important issue, with profound political, economic and operational implications, it was unthinkable that something like this could be resolved with just one session between the ambassadors of the 27 in Brussels and a discussion at the level of ministers. And in fact, it didn’t happen.
Before that meeting, different countries made public their doubts, questions and objections. Sweden y Finland They were the ones who most clearly put it black on white, but many others had serious reservations. Even so, Spain, as an interested country and presidency, raised the issue and Albares defended it in the room, even proposing that Catalan be “prioritized” over Basque or Galician, which deeply bothered his nationalist allies. The issue was put aside then.
Spain celebrated that there was “no veto”, and that the ministers’ decision was a step forward. Delegate to ambassadors and community technicians to outline a request yet to be defined to prepare a report that evaluates what economic cost the introduction of one or three more languages would have, what legal consequences, how it would affect the functioning of an EU that already In itself it is quite slow. That was the decision and nothing is going to change now. But the minister wants to continue giving political packaging to this bet, which is key for the investiture, since one of Junts’ conditions is that the issue be advanced.
The truth is that the reserves remain the same and are not going to disappear. Nobody formally vetoed, because there was no need. Many countries showed their doubts, their problems, their fears about what could be a precedent that other nationalist or regionalist movements use to try the same thing, making the EU much more complicated than it is now. The Government offered to bear all the expenses that could be derived, having indicated that a good number of the Spanish interpreters of the institutions could already translate Catalan. It has played with the demographic weight of Catalan, which has more speakers than many of the official languages of the Union. And it has drawn on precedents, often caught with pins, on the limited use that can be made in very specific circumstances.