epa10997453 Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Jose Manuel Albares (R), and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian National Authority, Riyad al Maliki (L), speak during their joint press conference within the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) 8th Regional Forum, in Barcelona, 27 November 2023. The two-days forum that had started on 26 November mainly at analyzing the situation in the Middle East due to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. EPA-EFE/Quique Garcia / POOL

Regional Signal

Spain looking to overcome ‘doubts’ about making Catalan, Basque and Galician official EU languages


Spanish ambassadors to the other 26 European Union Member States have received a document from José Manuel Albares, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, detailing the arguments that should be put forward to obtain support for the official recognition of Catalan, Basque and Galician as EU languages.

The document states all the reasons why the inclusion of the three languages in the EU linguistic framework would not set any precedent. It also emphasises Spain’s willingness to bear any associated costs.

The Spanish Government’s chance to officially plug the status of Catalan, Basque and Galician to the Council of the European Union will end on December 31, when it will hand over the rotating presidency of that group to Belgium.

The ambassadors are informed by Albares that there are “doubts”, with EU partners regarding the possibility that recognising the trio would “set a precedent for other regional languages” used around the EU.

Regarding these doubts, Albares pointed out Spain has amended a prior proposal, offering a detailed explanation of the “specificity of the Spanish case” in a bid to gain Members’ support.

The text, seen by Europa Press, proposes that a language be native to a Member State. A language must also have Constitutional recognition in the relevant State.

In addition, any such language must be used in national parliaments to receive official status in the EU; Catalan, Basque and Galician already meet this requirement in the Spanish Congress and Senate.

Furthermore, a language must have been used in European institutions for more than 10 years. The three Spanish languages also already meet this requirement.

The EU’s Treaties would need to be translated into any language approved, with a certified copy kept in the archives of the Council of the EU.

Spain said it is prepared to cover all related costs. While Madrid has not suggested a precise figure, it stated that it would be a “manageable” amount for the nation’s budget.

The Spanish proposal has been added to the Council of the EU’s General Affairs Council agenda for December 12, where the issue will be discussed again.

Albares stated he would like to know the “outcome of … efforts” by the ambassadors before December 6.

Unanimity among the Member States is required for Catalan, Basque and Galician to be regarded as EU official languages, of which there are currently 24.

Although the Spanish Government has repeatedly claimed no EU nation has strongly objected to its request, a number have expressed concerns about the possible repercussions.

Spain is apparently pushing the matter because the Government depends on separatist votes from Catalonia for support.

It has also made an amnesty agreement pardoning those convicted of taking part in the 2017 independence referendum and unilateral declaration of such.