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Catalan language skills not needed in order to become a Spanish government employee in territories where the language is spoken

Less than 2% of public sector positions offered by the Spanish government in territories where Catalan is the official language value its use, and none of the 33,167 positions require proficiency in the language as a prerequisite for the job.

Plataforma per la Llengua analyzed the public sector workplace statistics from December 2017 across the various ministries of the Spanish government and also the prerequisites and skills that public sector employees are required to have in territories where Catalan is spoken, which are Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands.  Overall, more than 98% of the positions in these territories do not view Catalan language skills as at least beneficial, and proficiency in Catalan is not required in any of the more than 33,000 jobs.

The analysis of public sector jobs across all ministries shows that only 617 of the 33,167 positions -- which only represents 1.86% --  that the Spanish state offers in territories where Catalan is official consider it beneficial to speak the language on the job.

The only two ministries that offer higher numbers of such positions are the Ministry of the Interior (7.9%) and the Ministry of Finance and Civil Service (1.16%), but even so, the number of jobs offered is very low.  This is explained by the fact that, for certain positions in the DGT (Directorate-General of Traffic) and also administrative positions in the Finance Ministry, competency in the Catalan language is valued.  Also, it is important to note that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, as well as the Ministry for Health, Social Services and Equality, are not reflected in these statistics because the Spanish administration does not assign workers in these ministries to the analyzed territories. Furthermore, civil servants employed by the general administration but whose jobs were created by the Catalan and Valencian authorities are also not counted.  Obviously, government officials employed by the regional and local governments are not included in this count.

The Spanish government has received warnings that it is not guaranteeing the right to language choice in its departments located in territories where Catalan is the official language.  In fact, in the Council of Europe's last compliance check regarding the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (CELROM), which the Spanish state ratified in 2001, the committee of experts released a report asserting that the Spanish Administration was not complying with commitments outlined in Article 10.1.a  ("guarantee that administrative authorities use regional or minority languages") and Article 10.4.b ("the selection and, if necessary, the teaching of functionaries and other public employees to the proper extent").  Later, the Council of Ministers recommended that the Spanish government implement "practical measures in order to assure an adequate presence of co-official languages in the State Administration's offices located in autonomous communities."

These statistics from December 2017 - which show that no government workplace requires Catalan language skills and that less than 2% even value them - shows that the Spanish state cannot respect the requirements outlined in CELROM even with the new Law of the Basic Statue of Public Employees (passed in 2015) that establishes that the public administration "must guarantee services to citizens in whichever language they desire, as long as said language is official in the territory," and, in the same sense, establishes that "the public administration, within the scope of its powers, must assure the selection of public employees that are properly qualified to fill positions on autonomous communities that have two official languages."

However, according to the latest data offered by the Spanish government in the last CELROM compliance report, in 2016 the State only allocated 1.12 € per government employee to the learning or improving of Catalan language skills (16,942 € allocated to a total of 14,982 public employees).  The amount dedicated to the same objective is equivalent to 28 cents of a euro per worker in the Balearic Islands (1,122 € for a total of 14,197 public employees) and 0 € in the case of Valencia.

Plataforma per la Llengua wants to reiterate that the right to language choice is only guaranteed when all public servants are able to speak the official languages of the territories where they work.  The alternative options, such as the partial ability of workers and translation services, are not adequate, for they require extraordinary actions such as citizens' having to change offices to be served or their having to get certain documents translated so that public employees can understand them.  These difficulties often times result in asking citizens to give up their right to language choice, for that option is more comfortable than actually abiding by the law. These types of requests, besides from being illegal, create an environment in which citizens often unnecessarily renounce their native language because they feel that doing so is useful, in turn disincentivizing the use of the Catalan language.

It's important to realize that pro-language organizations are not the only ones that are highlighting these flaws.  In fact, the sentiment is shared amongst other entities, such as the conservative Popular Party government in Galicia.  In March 2018, in signing the General Protocol for collaboration in terms of linguistic policy with other regions with official languages, the Galician administration published this statement: "The requirement of proficiency in official languages in order to work in the public sector ... is the only way to ensure the right to language choice."


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