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The Spanish government won't ask the president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, to allow the use of Catalan in the chamber. That's according to a written response from Pedro Sánchez's executive to En Comú-Podem deputy Jaume Moya.

The government argues that, although the European institutions generally maintain "an open attitude towards regional languages", they've always believed it "unviable" for these languages to have a presence in all European bodies "due to the high cost that would involve".

Sánchez's government thus avoids giving way to something Tajani himself suggested in a letter to Catalan-speaking MEPs on 16th January 2017.

Tajani, willing

In that letter, which Tajani had translated into Catalan, the president said that following a petition to enable the use of Catalan from the Spanish government, he "wouldn't raise any obstacle to it being approved and would use all the means at his disposal" for the use of Catalan in the chamber "to be approved as soon as possible".

Now, however, the Spanish government has declined to take this step, despite the request from En Comú-Podem. The response says that "the [Spanish] state enjoys exclusive competency in international affairs according to article 149.1.3 of the Spanish Constitution". They believe the agreements signed during Zapatero's time as prime minister for members of the public to be able to address themselves to the European institutions in writing are sufficient.

Within this framework, they explain that current legislation defines Castilian Spanish as the only official working language of the Spanish state in Europe and, in any case, "it's up to the governments of the member states to determine the legal situation of their different co-official languages according to their respective internal legislation".

The response comes a year and a half after Catalan MEPs from ERC, PDeCAT and Izquierda Unida, as well as Francesc Gambús (independent), disobeyed the legislation for the first time and spoke in Catalan in the chamber. That act coincided with the The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

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