The use of Catalan, Basque and Galician in the EU would have a cost of at least 132 million euros per year for Spain


A preliminary report from the Commission estimates 44 million per language taking into account what Galician cost, but warns that the total estimate required at least six months

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An interpreter in the European Parliament.AFP
  • Politics The EU postpones sine die the decision on the co-official languages ​​and Spain asks in a last attempt to “prioritize Catalan” over Basque and Galician
  • Languages Spain offers to assume the cost of converting Catalan, Galician and Basque into EU languages

The cost of making Catalan, Basque and Galician official in the European Union would amount to a minimum of 132 million euros per year for Spain. The figure, a preliminary estimate of the technical services of the European Commission, is an approximation taking into account what was involved in introducing Gallic at the request of Ireland. But the institutions themselves, which have made the calculation at the request of Spain, say that to truly know what it would mean, since many open questions would have to be clarified, a work of at least six months would be necessary.

That can be read in a 14-page document signed on December 6 and advanced this Friday by The Pass to which this newspaper has had access. In a response to an email request from the ambassador, permanent representative of Spain to the EU, Marcos Alonso, on October 24, the Commission services share their preliminary reflections. “Once the Council has a formal position on this issue and the Spanish authorities have indicated their approach to a number of issues such as, for example, the transitional regime, we could provide a full financial statement in a formal interinstitutional process. We estimate that This process will take up to six months.”

The document says that “a preliminary estimate for a ‘full regime’ of one added language is about €44 million per year per language, i.e. a total of around €132 million per year for three languages. This The cost is not based on specific estimates for Basque, Catalan and Galician, but rather on the work that was done to calculate the costs of Irish becoming the official and working language of the institutions that the Irish requested in 2015. What the technicians do is calculate the cost of that, at 2015 prices, and update it with an indexation of 2% annually. “To reach a more precise estimate of the costs of adding Basque, Catalan and Galician to Regulation No 1/1958, it would be necessary to take into account a series of factors”, they add.

Each language is different. “In our experience, the costs of adding an official language depend on the ease of recruiting staff for translation, interpretation, legal review and publications for the EU institutions and bodies, including decentralized EU bodies and agencies legally obliged to submit applications”. Depending on the available pool of qualified translators and interpreters, which may vary by language, “it will be necessary to identify and organize specific training with the Spanish authorities.” Secondly, the availability of terminology databases and the data sets necessary to feed machine translation will have an impact to be determined. “Where they do not exist, and again based on work with the Spanish authorities, investment will be necessary to create translation memories and in the technical and IT team to develop them,” it reads.

This report is provisional, partial. useful to frame the discussion a little, but not to solve it. Spain intends to resubmit the issue on General Affairs Council next week, the format in which topics such as the accession process of Ukraine or Moldova are discussed, which will be the main point in the European Council that the leaders of the 27 will hold in Brussels on Thursday and Friday of next week too. Spain is always represented on that council by the Secretary of State for the EU, but since September the minister Jose Manuel Albares has taken the lead in bringing up the issue of co-official languages.

Junts demand

It is part of the toll of the agreement with Junts for the investiture of Pedro Sánchez. Spain can ask, as it has done, that the issue be debated and even voted on, but the response it has received on two occasions is that it is too hasty, that it is not a priority and that a lot of technical work is needed before getting there. . In the first discussion it was agreed that technical and legal reports would be made, on the economic and political cost, on the legal details and the possible consequences. A dozen countries have reservations. Sweden and Finland said that they could not discuss, much less vote, as Spain intended by using or abusing control of the Council’s agenda thanks to the presidency this semester. Others, like the Baltics, annoyed by the insistence, remembered on the second attempt that the EU has much more important priorities.

Half a dozen delegations consulted in recent days by this newspaper have shown their “surprise”, “stupor” and even “annoyance” at the insistence. Since they still did not have real cost estimates or the implications of opening Pandora’s box with languages ​​that are co-official in their regions, but not official in the entire country. Since there are several dozen in the Union that could be affected. What everyone stated these days is that they did not expect anything more than a “state of the art”, for Spain to present this data as part of his strategy. But not that there is a vote for a decision that has a lot of significance and consequences.

Furthermore, this interim report does not cover all costs. The signatory of the email to the Spanish ambassador recalls that “there are other EU bodies that are not covered by the financial sheet on the Irish exception, including the EIB or 24 of the 34 decentralized agencies that are legally obliged to apply Regulation 1/1958 and whose translation costs must also be taken into account.” So the bill, which Spain offered to pay from the first day so that the If money were not an impediment to his ambitions to maintain the investiture pact, it would be higher in any case.

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