Catalan MEP Jordi Solé has told French president Emmanuel Macron of the need for the EU to defend linguistic diversity in Europe. Macron was present at this morning's session of the European Parliament to explain the priorities of France's six-month presidency of the EU Council, and Solé, of Catalonia's ERC, used his speaking time to denounce language issues in both the Spanish and French states: in the former, the persecution by Spanish justice of the Catalan language immersion model in schools; and in the French state, the marginalization suffered not only by Catalan but also Occitan, Corsican, Breton, Alsatian and Basque, which, he said, are "treated as second-class languages" in France.
Macron had previously defended the rule of law in Europe before the Parliament and stressed the need for, among other things, independent justice. Solé echoed the French president's words on the European promise of democracy and alluded to the right to self-determination, expressing confidence that the EU will work to "respect the democratic right of all peoples to choose their best future".
During his one-minute speech, Solé warned that there are many ways to make the EU stronger, and one of them is to "fully respect diversity." "We cannot be afraid of diversity and distrustful of democracy because these are two elements that must be kept at the heart of our common action," he said.
In particular, the pro-independence MEP referred to linguistic diversity as one of the areas whose current situation in Europe leaves a lot to be desired. He criticized the situation of Catalan in France, along with other minoritized languages such as Occitan, Corsican, Breton, Alsatian and Basque, saying that they are regarded as "second-class languages".
"Be brave so that these languages have the rights and resources they need," he told Macron, referring spefically to the so-called Molac law, passed by the National Assembly with the aim of promoting these languages in France - but subject to major contention, with deputies from the French president's own party taking the law to the Constitutional Court, where some of its key provisions were overturned.
Subsequently, Solé published his speech, given in French, on Twitter, with the demands he put to Macron on language and the right to self-determination. "Let's protect linguistic diversity. The European promise of democracy also means respecting the right to self-determination," he said in the tweet.
Jordi Solé's tweet on Macron's call for language and the right to self-determination
MEP Jordi Solé's speech to president Macron
Here's the full transcript of the ERC deputy's one-minute speech:
"Mr President of the Republic, there are many ways to make the European Union stronger. One of them is to fully respect diversity. We can't be afraid of diversity, or mistrustful of democracy, because they are two elements that have to be at the centre of our common action. But diversity, especially linguistic diversity, is not in the best of health in Europe today. In Catalonia, the Spanish courts want to destroy the educational model that allows all students to fully master both Catalan and Spanish. In France, languages like Occitan, Corsican, Breton, Alsatian, Basque and Catalan are still regarded as second-class languages."
"We ask you to be brave so that these languages have the rights and the resources that they deserve, as the Molac law orginally sought to do. We also hope that, in the European Union, you will work in favour of respect for the democratic rights of all peoples to choose the best future for themselves."