Pedro Sanchez bids to secure EU recognition for regional languages

The interim Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, is embarking on a diplomatic
manoeuvre to garner the support of separatist groups and strengthen his political
position. This involves seeking European Union (EU) recognition for three regional
languages, but experts suggest that the potential hurdles of cost, skilled personnel
shortages, and international caution might hinder the success of his plans.
In a bold move, the Spanish capital approached the EU with a formal request to include
Basque, Catalan, and Galician among the bloc's official languages. This initiative places
the decision squarely in the hands of the General Affairs Council, which is due to
convene in September to deliberate on whether these languages should be added to
the list of the EU's 24 official languages.
Sanchez's administration has been swift in its efforts to bolster the status of regional
languages since revealing its language strategy. A significant development came as
Francina Armengol, a close ally of Sanchez and a Catalan speaker, secured the position
of speaker of the lower chamber by garnering the support of separatist parties.
Armengol has declared that Galician, Catalan, and Basque languages will now find
acceptance in the Spanish Congress. She emphasised that this move reflects the
nation's linguistic diversity and cultural richness, terming it a "fact of democratic
The Spanish Prime Minister's letter to the current EU rotating presidency, held by the
Czech Republic, highlights the significance of recognising Basque, Catalan, and Galician.
Sanchez contends that this recognition will not only bolster linguistic diversity and
cultural heritage within the EU but also promote values of tolerance and
Leaders of the Basque, Catalan, and Galician autonomous communities have, of
course, lauded the Spanish government's request for EU recognition. Nonetheless,
opposition has emerged from other quarters of Spain. Critics argue that such
recognition could provide an unfair advantage to these languages over Castilian, the
official language of Spain.
As the decision looms, the EU's Council faces a complex array of considerations. These
include the number of speakers of these languages, their historical and cultural
relevance, and the associated costs of providing translation services.
Beyond the stated reasons, political calculations might be motivating Sanchez's push
for this recognition. In the backdrop of the growing Catalan independence movement,
Sanchez seems to be aiming to appease Catalan separatists by securing EU recognition
for the Catalan language, potentially preventing further secessionist endeavours.
The outcome of Sanchez's gambit remains uncertain, and the process will unfold over
time. Nevertheless, his bid for EU acknowledgment of Basque, Catalan, and Galician as
official languages marks a significant milestone in Spain's ongoing discourse on
linguistic diversity.

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