This Wednesday, Sweden made official its reservations to the idea of including Catalan, Basque and Basque as official languages of the European Union. In the month of August, and as part of the negotiations between the Socialist Party and the Catalan independentists for the election of Francina Armengol as president of the Congress table, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, sent a request for the Union study the modification of the current regulation that limits the number of official languages in which Community documents are spoken and translated.
Junts per Cat demanded firm proof, with a seal, that the Government was really promoting the idea, and not just promising it. And he got it. Albares sent a letter to the rotating presidency of the Council, but since it was Spain itself in this semester, he gave a copy to the general secretary of the Council. The express request was to include the issue on the agenda of the next General Affairs Council of the EU, through what is known as a motion for debate and approval. That is: that the immediate modification of the regulations be discussed at the level of the ambassadors first, and then the ministers, so that the three languages that are co-official in our country in their respective autonomous communities could be for community use. The decision is made at the level of ministers and must be unanimous.
The issue remains on that agenda, and will be addressed this Friday by the ambassadors of the 27 to the EU, who are the ones who prepare the CAGs, which are a kind of mixed bag. The ministers of European Affairs usually attend, if they have their own portfolio, or the secretaries of State for the EU, which is the case of Spain. Albares never attends these types of meetings, but on Tuesday he will be in Brussels so that it is clear to the rest of the European partners that the issue is a priority for Madrid.
The problem is that there is little appetite. The idea of adding three more languages at once is unthinkable for many countries. There are some for whom it is not a concern at the political level. There are some who are concerned about the economic cost or the administrative mess, since the process is already quite slow at 27. And if three languages that are not official throughout the country suddenly enter, it could be a 'dangerous' precedent for management level. And then there are those who, for internal reasons, see it as a nightmare. As is the case with France, which has a very delicate relationship with the use of anything other than French in administration.
Sweden is in the second group. "The Government is reluctant to review the regulations for Catalan, Basque and Galician to become official and working languages in the EU institutions. The Government believes that in order to adopt a definitive position an analysis of the consequences of the proposal, both on the effectiveness of the functioning of the EU and for the budgets," reads the Executive's statement, collected by Bloomberg.
The country's Minister of European Affairs, Jessika Roswall, added that they believe that "it must be studied more carefully what the legal and economic consequences of the proposal may be. There are many minority languages that are not official in the Union," she indicated.
Sweden is not the only skeptical country, but it is the first to clearly write down its opinion. Sources from the Spanish Government explain that calculations have not yet been made of what cost it would have for the Union to add three more languages, in terms of interpreters, translators, changes to the booths used in the institutions, etc. Nor are they "still in it," they say in reference to how long it could take to have sufficient logistics so that the languages could be used normally. Ireland was the last country to ask for incorporation, with Gaelic. And although it was achieved more than 15 years ago, it had to wait decades until it had the necessary experts to make it possible to use the language every day and at all levels.
Pedro Sánchez's team appears confident. They explained the day before that they had not detected any reluctant countries, not even along the lines of Sweden, which only asks for now, before even considering a vote on the matter, an in-depth study. "The normal thing is that this document is entrusted to the technical services, that a long deadline is given, and then the issue can languish for a long period," explains a community source.
Spain can ask for it to satisfy Carles Puigdemont, but approval is not in its hands. The independence movement has demanded proof of commitment, of effort, but it cannot expect results that are beyond the control of Sánchez and his ministers.