Plaid Cymru calls on UK to act on EU languages
Plaid Cymru's Euro-MP Jill Evans has welcomed last night's decision by Europe's Foreign Ministers on a framework which gives semi official status to languages such as Catalan, Galician and Basque and on the regulation which gives the Irish language the status of a working language used at the European level.
Ms Evans - who has been leading Plaid Cymru's campaign for Welsh to become an official EU language - says that the deal opens the door for Welsh to get a similar status if the UK Government has the will.
The deal - decided at a meeting of European Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg - means that for the first time citizens will be able to correspond with the EU institutions in these languages. Speaking from Brussels, Ms Evans said:
"This is great news for people who speak or are learning Irish, Catalan, Basque and Galician. The UK Government must now take action during their Presidency of the EU and give the same rights for the Welsh language. Nothing stands in their way and Spain's actions has shown this. This could be a real and positive action for the UK Presidency. "This deal sets a very important precedent and we in Plaid Cymru demand that the Welsh language gets the recognition it deserves in Europe."
Plaid's Parliamentary Leader Elfyn Llwyd MP added:
"The UK Government has no more excuses on this - we expect to see urgent action to give the Welsh language the status it deserves in the EU. The major regulatory obstacles have now been removed and it is a question of political will. With the UK Government shortly to take over the Presidency of the European Union we expect to see an improvement in the status of the Welsh language in the EU over the next six months.
"After all - what possible excuse can Tony Blair have for denying Welsh the improvements in status accorded to the Catalan, Galician and Basque languages in Europe?"
The deal secured by Spain will allow Catalan, Galician and Basque speakers to correspond with EU institutions in their own language and for simultaneous translation at top level meetings. Irish gets full official status which means Irish can in future be used at top level ministerial meetings and on the floor of the European Parliament.
It also means that passive Catalan, Basque and Galician translation will be provided on request at meetings of the EU's Council of Ministers (and eventually of the European Parliament and of the Committee of the Regions). The full official status given to Irish will mean that Irish speaking MEPs will be able to address the European Parliament in Irish from 1 January 2007, when the deal takes effect.
JILL EVANS ASE / MEP
the Party of Wales
in the European Parliament, Jill Evans represents the whole of Wales in the European Parliament