Last week it was made very clear by the president of the Europarliament, Jerzey Buzek. Catalan is not going to be an official language in Europe. The explanations he’s given are concise. Since Spanish is already understood by everyone in the Spanish State and that since Catalan is not even allowed at the Spanish Parliament to start with why should it be allowed in the European Parliament? Good point. In fact, and just to make it clear on the same day, January the 20th, PSOE made also a statement at the Spanish Parliament that Catalan will not be allowed there either. The attitude of the Spanish government has been hypocritical since they have supported Catalan to become official in the EU but not in Spain.
Catalan is currently only co-official in 3 of the 17 Spanish autonomous communities but spoken by about 20% percent of it’s population. Europe argues that it will not accept Catalan to become official until Spain deals with it locally. Let’s not fool ourselves, that is never going to happen, as Zapatero has just reminded us. The Spanish have no interest in making Catalan official in Spain, even though it is the language of 10 million people who feel alienated and let down by the institutions that should protect and preserve their cultural heritage.
The problem is that the Spanish do not consider Catalan to be part of their cultural heritage, as they repeatedly remind us but we don’t seem to get the message. However, they are still interested in collecting our taxes.
Let’s not forget that the Catalan speaking countries, Catalonia, Valencian Country and the Balearic Islands are practically the only net contributors to the Spanish state, meaning that they always receive a lot less investment than the amount they pay in taxes, this deficit amounts to between 10-12% of these territories’ GDP every year. This is unsustainable and no other regions in the western world suffer such a dreadful fiscal plundering. Our culture is not represented but our taxes fund first class freeways all over Spain while in Catalonia millions of commuters must pay extortionate tolls every day, we have the obligation to pay but not the right for our culture to be respected. They make it very clear that in Spain there’s only space for the Castillians, the rest of us are to shut up and pay.
Therefore not only Catalan speakers sustain Spain but by doing this we also fund the politics against our culture, which in my opinion is a stupid thing to do and anyone who calls themselves a Catalan should take this thought into consideration next autumn at the time of casting their vote.
Why should we be part of a state where we never decided to join and that repeatedly has showed us that will make any effort to make our culture disappear? Why should we support institutions that refuse to speak our language?
I was delighted to see that in Canada both English and French are equally official and little details like labeling in both languages, requirement to speak both languages to access certain public positions, etc are respected. In that sense they are in a different level of democracy and civilization that we can’t even dream of in the Iberian peninsula, at least not while we are in Spain.
What is the reason why I can’t watch a movie with Catalan subtitles or why can’t I have all products I pay for labeled in my language? What is the difference between Catalonia and Denmark, The Netherlands or Finland? To name but a few similarly sized countries. The only difference is that they have a state.
Currently there are only three ways for Catalan to become official in Europe. The first one would be for Andorra to join the EU, this way there would be no discussion, since Catalan is the only official language in Andorra it will automatically become official in Europe. I personally don’t rely on this since the Andorrans have powerful reasons not to take this step and because this, in my opinion, would only fix the situation of the surface. Secondly, that Spain makes it official. Not a chance. Finally, the only one that depends only on the will of the Catalan people. To become an independent state, this way Catalan would automatically become an official language in the EU.
This situation has been going on for far too long. Catalan must be official in Europe, it is a matter or dignity and respect.