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The Spanish government forces firms with technological innovation projects to present grant applications in Spanish

The Spanish government continues to make regulations discouraging the use of the co-official languages of the State, this time insisting that firms with technological innovation projects make grant applications in Spanish.

The suppliers for these projects will also be compelled to operate in Spanish even if Catalan is their normal working language. This destroys equality of opportunity for citizens.

The latest move comes from the Ministry of the Economy, headed by Nadia Calviño, which has approved grants for enterprise programmes to develop technology and content. However, these programmes, run by the organisation Red.es, include a language restriction in their rules: grant applications must be drawn up in, at least, Spanish.

It should be stressed that the requirement to use Spanish in the application also includes the obligation to present all the attached documents in Spanish. This is particularly serious, as it generates a chain of obstacles to using Catalan that will affect various businesses. The applicant firm will have to justify the grant application with invoices, which will have to be in Spanish. Other languages may be used as well, but Spanish is compulsory. This means all companies providing goods or services will be forced to draw up invoices in Spanish, even if Catalan is the language they usually work in and the language in which they issue invoices to that customer, because it is the co-official language in the place where the good or service is provided.

Meanwhile, Catalan-speakers studying for the Spanish baccalaureate abroad will not be able to take examinations in Catalan at Spanish centres in other countries. This policy, which is not new as it is repeated every year, means that the Spanish State is maintaining an education system abroad that does not meet the needs of the Catalan-speaking community. If the children of Catalan-speaking families abroad want to follow a Spanish curriculum they will have to take examinations in Spanish and they will not be able to do courses or examinations in Catalan.

People with disabilities doing higher-level vocational training diplomas in chemistry and environmental health face another limitation. An order from the Ministry of Education establishes that, in course subjects taught in English, students with particular disabilities who find it difficult to express themselves orally may request an exemption from doing the modules in English. However, this exemption is only useful for Spanish-speakers, as it establishes only that disabled people can "study all the content of the vocational modules in Spanish".

The approval by the Spanish government of discriminatory regulations of this kind governing vocational modules is very common. In 2019, other Ministry of Education orders made similar exemptions for teaching, social and sports monitoring, sports preparation and clinical electro-medicine courses. These regulations appear to ignore the fact that the Spanish-speaking community is not the only one in the Spanish State and that Catalan-speaking students also have special needs. In fact, all these orders are particularly shocking because of their lack of consideration for sensitive groups: they arenot just an exception or the specific policy of one ministry. Regulations treating the Spanish State as a homogeneous linguistic whole and Spanish-speakers as if they were the only people with rights of citizenship form part of State policy. The origin of this State policy is the supremacy of Spanish established by the Spanish constitution and traditionally maintained by Spanish nationalism.

Discriminatory regulations are not concentrated in a single area. They govern widely diverse aspects that affect social life and citizens' private lives in very different ways. During the first three months of 2020 there have been three new regulations imposing Spanish in obtaining or issuing certificates; three imposing it in educational courses and examinations; as many as seven requiring it in labelling products; four ensuring its use in internal administrative processes; two requiring its use in certain business procedures; two giving the Ministry of Culture powers to promote it; one establishing it as a professional requirement for pilots; two demanding its use in documents necessary for obtaining grants and one recognising it indirectly as the "principal language of the country".

The most important regulations of the last three months, apart from the higher education ones for chemistry and environmental health, include the following:

  • Royal Decree 2/2020, restructuring the ministerial departments following the formation of the PSOE and Podemos coalition government and Order of the Ministry of Culture 1313/2019, developing the Royal Decree, establish as an objective of the Ministry from Culture and Sport the proposal and implementation of Spanish government policy concerning the promotion and publicity of "culture in Spanish", without any equivalent mention of the promotion of culture in Catalan. These regulations are not new: Royal Decree 355/2018, restructuring the ministerial departments when Pedro Sánchez's first government was formed, did exactly the same.
  • The Court of Justice of the European Union published some practical instructions in which it reminded members States that they have the right to use their official language when they take part in an oral hearing and that the other parties must use the official European Union language chosen by the plaintiff.
  • A resolution of the Spanish Air Safety Agency on aircraft flown by remote control establishes that pilots must prove they know Spanish or English to operational level. For this purpose, it was established that they had to provide a certificate proving their language level. Pilots without expert level in one of these languages also have to be periodically reassessed; every six years for advanced level and every three years for operational level. 
Area State provisions Autonomous comunity provisions UN provisions Total
Certificates, qualifications and licences 3 0 0 3
Education 3 0 0 3
Labelling 0 6 1 7
Administrative operation and inter-administrative relations 1 3 0 4
Business obligations 1 1 0 2
Promotion 2 0 0 2
Knowledge requirements 1 0 0 1
Grant application requirements 2 0 0 2
Symbols and recognition 0 1 0 1
Total 13 11 1 25

Source: own elaboration by research at BOE

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