Brussels (ACN).- The plans by the Spanish government to relegate the Catalan language to a third-class subject in schools and force the Government to pay for private education in Spanish for those parents who are unhappy with the current system in Catalonia have forced a group of Catalan MEPs in Brussels to act. The MEPs, from the centre-right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), the left-wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC), the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) and the Greens Party (ICV), have written a joint letter to the European Commission denouncing Spain’s plans.
Ramon Tremosa (CiU), Salvador Sedó (CiU), Ana Miranda (BNG but acting in the name of the ERC), Maria Badia (PSC), Raimon Obiols (PSC) and Raül Romeva (ICV) have asked for a meeting with the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vasilliou. They want to discuss the Spanish minister Wert’s proposal, which they consider “alarming”, with her. In their letter, they argued that former Commissioner Leonard Orban praised the Catalan education system as a “model to be followed by the rest of the countries in the European Union”. Also, they remind Vasilliou about the report ‘Multilingualism: an asset for Europe and a shared commitment” which defined the Catalan education system as an effective tool to promote multilingualism. The MEPs said that the Catalan model of education – in which Catalan is the main language of instruction - has helped to “normalize” use of the language after decades of persecution during the dictatorship. Also, they said, using Catalan throughout the education system contributes enormously to the “social cohesion” in Catalonia, as students from all social backgrounds finish school completely bilingual. “Catalonia has been a welcoming land for hundreds of thousands of people who wanted to become integrated here. Our success has been that all of them have felt completely Catalan thanks to, amongst other things, the use of Catalan as the language of instruction in schools”, they said in a press release. The Catalan politicians have also presented a parliamentary question to the European Commission urging the institution to protect languages such as Catalan and asking whether the law proposed by the Spanish government is in line with European directives. On Tuesday, Catalan minister Irene Rigau left a meeting in Madrid about the law in order to express her opposition to the motion. She said the proposals so far are “not negotiable” for the Catalans. Spanish minister José Ignacio Wert rejected claims that his proposals are an attack against the Catalan education system, saying instead they only create “limits”. The proposal has caused an intense row between the Catalan and the Spanish governments during a very sensitive time for the relationship between Barcelona and Madrid. Also in Brussels, the president of the civil society institution Òmnium Cultural, Muriel Casals, said the new proposal is an “aggression” against the Catalan language. Casals said the European Union should know better what their Spanish allies are doing with the Catalan language, and that’s why she tried to explain the situation during a serious of meetings in the European capital. Casals argued that the Catalan education model has been proved a success by international organizations and that it should not change despite pressure from Madrid. “Nowhere in the world is the language of the territory considered as a ‘specialised’ subject, a third-class option for students”, she said regretfully.