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3.23.2012

MEPs protest to EU Council and Commission over dire situation for Catalan in the Balearic Islands

Source: Eurolang http://www.facebook.com/pages/Eurolang/174907085047

EUROLANG / EUROPEAN LANGUAGE EQUALITY NETWORK

PRESS RELEASE

MEPs protest to EU Council and Commission over dire situation for Catalan in the Balearic Islands
A cross-party grouping of MEPs led by the Hungarian MEPs Csaba Sogor (Hungarian minority, Romania) and Edit Bauer representing Hungarians in Slovakia (EPP), signed by EFA, ALDE and S&D Intergroup members, and after lobbying by Eurolang- ELEN and Obra Cultural Balear (OCB), have sent a formal tabled question to the EU Council and Commission protesting against measures that undermine Catalan in Illes Balears and which have resulted in an ongoing hunger strike by pensioner Jaume Bonet.

The letter asks whether the Commission, as 'Guardian of the Treaties', considers that the measures adopted by the Balearic government undermine "respect for linguistic diversity” and constitutes discrimination on the grounds of language, which under EU law is prohibited?

Furthermore, it asks the Commission what it intends to do in order to protect national minority rights in this situation.

The letter underlines that the measures adopted by the regional government contravene European standards on lesser used language protection found in the EU Lisbon Treaty, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and the Council of Europe's European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, all ratified by Spain.

It adds that the measures also break cross-party political consensus on Catalan promotion and undermine successful language regeneration.

That the letter has also the support of several members of the European Peoples Party, of which the PP Iles Balears government are members, is highly significant - a significance that will have resonance in European, national and regional political circles. It illustrates a new mood at the European level, under the ‘new European architecture for human rights,’ that it is no longer acceptable for governments to attack or undermine a regional language.

The PP government of Illes Balears, led by José Ramón Bauzá, voted a week ago to amend the law on Catalan normalisation which removes Catalan language requirements in order to work in the public administration. The move has been heavily criticised by NGOs for breaking a decades long cross-party political consensus on regenerating the language.

Specialists in the field of minority language rights have highlighted what they see as an abusive use of the concept of 'freedom' to implement policies (some not even included in the election manifesto) to annul existing measures seeking to guarantee minority language speakers' rights. Similar measures by the government in the hands of the same party, in Valencia, also based on the same principle, have also been accused of failing to support the language and its use by speakers.

So far there has been no reaction from the Balearic government while Senyor Bonet-Moll’s condition continues to weaken. He has lost 20 kilos (44 lbs), has a heart complaint, and has had his visiting hours restricted.

OCB are organising a mass demonstration against changes in the language law and in support of Jaume Bonet for Sunday 25th March in Palma.(Eurolang 2012)

ENDS

Editors Notes

ELEN is the new European level network working to promote lesser used languages replacing the well known EBLUL organisation.

Links
OCB http://www.ocb.cat
Eurolang http://www.facebook.com/pages/Eurolang/174907085047
Baròmetre de l'ús del català a Internet