Council of Europe says Spain should "consider extending recognition" of co-official languages "to other Autonomous Communities"

If implemented, European proposal could see Catalan receiving recognition in Aragon, Galician in Extremadura, León · Council suggests implementation of trilingualism in schools should not "adversely affect" non-state languages

The Council of Europe.
The Council of Europe. Author: David
Spanish authorities should "consider extending the recognition" of languages that are already co-official in several territories -Catalan, Galician, Basque and Occitan- "to other Autonomous Communities provided that there is a sufficient number of users" of those languages. This is one of the recommendations that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe issued today, aimed at ensuring greater protection for languages other than Spanish.

If implemented, the Committee's suggestion could result in the recognition of Catalan in the easternmost area of Aragon (the Franja) and in Murcia (El Carxe), and of Galician in Castile and León (Bierzo, Sanabria) and Extremadura (the Xálima Valley). Asturias would not be automatically included in the list, since the Council of Europe's documents say the language spoken in the western regions of Asturias is "Galician-Asturian", rather than "Galician," and thus is a "non co-official" language.

The Committee also suggests that the implementation of trilingual education "does not adversely affect the protection and promotion" of Spain's languages other than Spanish. Thus, the Committee takes into account demands by pro-Catalan language activists in the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Country, who denounced that a trilingual system driven by previous PP governments there was in fact detrimental to the place of Catalan in the education system.

The Committee issued another 4 recommendations, which suggest the Spanish authorities to reinforce the role of the co-official languages in justice, in the state administration and in public services at large. Those 4 recommendations are relative to the autonomous communities where the co-official languages are already recognized as such. This means that the Council of Europe understands that shortcomings in the protection of Catalan (in Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands), Galician (in Galicia), Basque (in Euskadi and Navarre) and Occitan (in Catalonia) still exist.

Unrecognized languages

The Committee of Ministers' recommendations are based on the fourth report by the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. The Charter is an instrument for the protection of non-state languages, which Spain ratified in 2001.

Besides the aspects aforementioned, the European experts' report too includes some words on those languages not having been granted any kind of co-official status. Experts say that, in recent years, a regression in the limited protection enjoyed by Asturian and Aragonese in Asturias and Aragon has taken place. They also claim that virtually no steps have been taken in order to protect Portuguese in Extremadura, Arabic in Ceuta or Leonese in Castile and León. Conversely, considered the experts label as a "positive step" the fact that Tamazight has been recognized as an "intangible cultural heritage" in Melilla.