Thursday, 20 November 2008

Welsh/Cymraeg - a Living Language of Europe

20 November 2008

Making history in Welsh

Plaid MEP Jill Evans, who has campaigned for many years for official status for the Welsh language at European Union level, has welcomed today's first speech in Welsh at the EU Council of Ministers. (NOTE - see Timeline below).

Welsh Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones will speak Welsh at a ministerial meeting of the EU's Culture Council in Brussels on Thursday where interpretation will be provided into other languages.

Speaking ahead of the meeting the Plaid MEP said:

"I'm delighted that today the Welsh language is finally getting the same recognition as other European languages. I've been campaigning for official status for Welsh in Europe for many years. This is literally making history in Welsh.

"This is of huge symbolic importance and will raise the profile of Wales as a nation on the European stage. I congratulate Alun Ffred Jones and the One Wales Government for making it happen. I also want to thank all of the organisations and individuals in Wales who have given such strong support to this campaign.

"In spite of those who laughed at the idea, including then Prime Minister Tony Blair, and despite opposition from the other parties, we have come a long way. But this isn't the end of the story. I'm still pushing the European Parliament to adopt similar new rules for Welsh. The fact that other European bodies have done it shows that it is both possible and practical."

diwedd / ends

Timeline for Gaining Co-Official Status for the Welsh Language in Europe

November 2004: Jill becomes first person to legally speak Welsh in European Parliament following rule changes led by her parliamentary group.
* March 2005: called for EU Constitution to be translated into Welsh. Jill Evans and Elfyn Llwyd meet UK government to press case for recognition of Welsh language. Announcement marks the first step in winning co-official EU status.
June 2005: Spoke in Welsh in European Parliament during debate with Tony Blair during UK EU Presidency.
June 2005: Decision by Europe 's Foreign Ministers on framework for co-official status for Catalan, Galician and Basque. Citizens can correspond with EU institutions in these languages and they can be spoken with interpretation in most of the institutions. Jill called on UK government to follow this example for Welsh.
August 2005: distributed language information packs, asking people to write to Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary, calling for Welsh to be given the same rights as Catalan, Basque and Galician.
September 2005: Jill and Hywel Williams MP hold meetings in Brussels as part of Plaid Cymru's campaign to improve the status of the Welsh language in the EU.
November 2005: UK presidency signs agreement for Catalan, Basque and Galician to be given co-official status, and so can be used in official meetings and correspondence.
June 2006: Welsh Assembly's European Affairs Committee announce they are to consider a proposal for limited use of Welsh in EU institutions.
July 2006: Jill writes to Rhodri Morgan asking him to follow Spain 's example and ensure the UK government covers translating costs.
November 2006: Jill makes the case for co-official status to the Assembly's European Affairs Committee, by live video link from Brussels .
January 2007: EU Commissioner for multi-lingualism appointed
June 2007: Commitment to get co-official status for Welsh is in the One Wales coalition agreement, first put forward by Jill.
June 2008: Jill launches appeal asking organisations in Wales to write to President of the European Parliament, stating their support for the right to communicate with the Parliament in Welsh.
July 2008: Welsh made a co-official language in the EU Council.
September 2008: Jill meets with President of the European Parliament to discuss making Welsh co-official in Parliament.
November 2008: Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones to address Council in Welsh for the first time.


Al Iguana said...

brilliant - at least the European Parliament takes us seriously, unlike the English one. But then again, the Euro Parliament was built with multi-translation facilities built in (like the Senedd), so it's easier.

kerdasi amaq said...

What will she tell them : that it must never be allowed to happen again!

Wales has no future in the United Kingdom and has no future in Europe!

Brian Barker said...

The Welsh language is not alone in fighting for its linguistic rights.

The promulgation of English as the world's "lingua franca" is impractical and linguistically undemocratic. I say this as a native English speaker!

Impractical because communication should be for all and not only for an educational or political elite. That is how English is used internationally at the moment.

Undemocratic because minority languages are under attack worldwide due to the encroachment of majority ethnic languages. Even Mandarin Chinese is attempting to dominate as well. The long-term solution must be found and a non-national language, which places all ethnic languages on an equal footing is essential.

An interesting video can be seen at Professor Piron was a former translator with the United Nations

A glimpse of Esperanto can be seen at

Anonymous said...

And who pays for all the translation?

Yep! You've got it. The good old WAG, i.e. The Public, yet again.

For how much longer does this linguistic nonsense go on?