Spain: Regional and minority language-users face “significant problems”

“Significant problems” are hindering the use of regional and minority languages in Spain, according to a new report published today.

As a result, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers has issued six recommendations to the Spanish authorities on the application of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

According to the report, “legislation on the right to have proceedings before judicial and state administration bodies conducted in the relevant regional language has not been changed to ensure that this right can be exercised at the request of one party, and the use of regional languages in some areas of the state administration and in public services, particularly in health care, is hampered by the lack of staff who can use them.

“With regard to the trilingual education model which was introduced in a number of autonomous communities – which especially affects the Balearic Islands, Galicia and Valencia -, the report stresses that great care should be taken that it does not negatively affect the provision of education in regional or minority languages.

“In most autonomous communities, more effort is needed in the field of printed and broadcasting media, to have adequate coverage in the whole region. The report also calls for greater co-operation in education and broadcast media between the autonomous communities where the same or similar languages are spoken.”

The report reveals positive trends in respect to teaching of the Basque language both in the Basque country and Navarre.

However, the report’s authors note that “the low proportion of staff with a command of the Basque language causes problems in the fields of justice, police, health and social care in the Basque Autonomous Community.

“The gradual reduction of teaching in Galician in Galicia is cause for concern for the speakers, according to the committee. Moreover, the legislation in place limits the use of Galician in education to a maximum of 50%.”

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