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Spanish Treasury orders staff not to provide telephone service in Catalan

The Spanish Tax Agency has reminded its staff, via the intranet, that "we will never provide" the option to be addressed in a co-official language

A Treasury employee has reported this to Plataforma per la Llengua, who will take the case to the Council of Europe

"Whether the PP or PSOE is in power, the State is very clear: Catalans pay taxes as first-class citizens, but we are treated as second-class citizens", insists the Catalan-language NGO

In 2017, Plataforma per la Llengua reported the fact that the option to be addressed in Catalan had been removed from the telephone support line for the end-of-year tax return period. At the time, it was already revealed that the option to be addressed in Catalan was not respected. Two years later, the linguistic discrimination goes even further than that: Spanish Tax Agency staff have been given orders that "we will never provide" the option to be addressed in a co-official language.

This has been reported to Plataforma per la Llengua by a Treasury employee, after receiving a reminder via the Tax Agency's intranet ordering staff to only consider addressing the taxpayer in Catalan "if the taxpayer insists on using this option". However, it states that "we will never provide the option because it is not possible to choose a co-official language when making the appointment".

Plataforma per la Llengua, however, has confirmed that service in Catalan is not guaranteed even when the taxpayer wants to be addressed in the language. In various test calls, the end-of-year tax return telephone operators made it very clear that it was not possible to redirect the call to a department that could address the taxpayer in Catalan. Plataforma per la Llengua considers this to be a case of discrimination.

First-class taxes, second-class linguistic rights

Plataforma per la Llengua is reporting the fact that this is yet another example of the Spanish State discriminating against Catalan speakers. "Whether the PP is in power or Sánchez's PSOE is in power, whether through the front door or the back door, the Spanish State is very clear about this: Catalan speakers pay taxes to the Spanish Treasury, but we are treated as second-class citizens. We don't have the same rights as Spanish speakers. Enough is enough", insists Òscar Escuder, President of Plataforma per la Llengua. "Furthermore, in this case, the administration is acting in a perverse way and ordering its employees to ignore citizens' linguistic rights. We are therefore reporting this situation to the Committee of Experts of the Council of Europe which evaluates compliance with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages."

To prevent such situations, Plataforma per la Llengua insists that a firm political commitment is needed to change the current legal system. "Article 3 of the Spanish Constitution perpetuates the superiority of Spanish over Catalan, Basque or Galician. This means that the State can discriminate against Catalan speakers with no consequences whatsoever", explains Escuder. The Catalan-language NGO has sent several proposals to the parties encouraging them to commit to undertaking reforms to public administration, which would ensure that cases such as this do not happen again. Proposals include providing widespread training in Catalan for civil servants and ensuring Catalan speakers' right to linguistic choice. The NGO is now asking citizens to add their signature to put pressure on the parties to accept these proposals, at the following link: www.lallenguanoestoca.cat.

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