Publié le 16/12/03 20:04 -- mis à jour le 00/00/00 00:00
by Alexia Bos Solé
Miquel Mayol, born in Perpinyà in 1941, was co-founder, and after secretary, of Esquerra Catalana dels Treballadors (1971-1981), the first Catalan party in northern Catalunya in the French state. He became secretary of the North Catalan Federation of the Catalan nationalist party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) in 1997. Mayol has also been the promoter of Unió per la Regió Catalana and has participated in most initiatives in defence of Catalan culture and language.
In June 2001 Miquel Mayol became a Member of the European Parliament and sits with the European Free Alliance/ Green group.
ABS: What is the situation of the Catalan language in the Rosselló (northern Catalunya)
Miquel Mayol in the European Parliament recently
MM: There is no data on the linguistic situation in North Catalunya. A recent survey in Languedoc-Roussillon revealed that 50% of the population could speak it. However, the linguistic situation has changed because of immigration, actually 100,000 people will come in the next 10 years, and the figures will fall. The language was being maintained up until the 2nd World War, but passively. Now there is a growing resistance movement, an intellectual minority who are university students, who promote and defend the language. The situation is being reversed: now there will hopefully be a renaissance. And it is not a literary renaissance but a renaissance of political consciousness.
ABS: How can you describe the decision of the French State Council, which has opposed the integration of schools that teach regional languages using the immersion method into the French public education system
MM: The French State Council considers that, in the case of the Diwan schools, the immersion system is contrary to the French law and its Constitution. From its revision in 1992, because of the Maastricht Treaty, the French Constitution, Article 2, states that: 'the French language is the language of the Republic'. In my opinion, there is a judicial precariousness in the field of education, since it is contrary to the Constitution. We live in a situation of precariousness and contradiction, which entitles judges to do what they want. If a tax payer thinks that the grants given by a collective are unfair, the French State Council can agree with him. These kind of decisions also affect the Bressola Catalan schools and all the schools with a regional or minority language teaching system. The only solution is that France revises Article 2 of its Constitution and that the French adopt legislation recognising the public usefulness of these schools. But this is so contradictory to the French tradition that a revolution will be needed in order to change the situation.
ABS: In some of your press releases you have shown your scepticism regarding the work of the Convention and the draft EU Constitution. What is the current position of you party, ERC, concerning the EU Constitution
MM: We have seen that the states have the power in this case. The jacobin states didn’t want Europe to be mixed up with or involved in state home affairs. Therefore, Francoist states such as the Spanish one do what they want, even if there are states such as Belgium or Germany that can elect to be represented by sub-state collectives. In this Convention, the nations without state are taking a step backwards. And my doubt is the following: do we have to vote 'No' to this EU Constitution I would hesitate. Politically we should say 'No'. But, in the long term, the integration process will inevitably weaken the problems of the stateless nations. Maybe I am too optimistic but in Switzerland they fought to have a French canton, different and separate from the German one. They carried out a bloodless fight. But I will opt for 'No'. However, even if the Convention has aspects that I would criticise, its still a step forward.
ABS: Some people even think that the draft EU Constitution will not be approved of in the end, what do you think
MM: Yes, this option is possible, maybe it will not be able to count on the agreement of the Member States.
ABS: The Ebner report had your support. Are there any other initiatives currently in the European Parliament which work towards a similar aim
MM: In every legislation period there is at least one initiative similar to Ebner's one. In this legislation period we had two initiatives: the one presented by our Catalan colleague and former MEP Pere Esteve, and Mr. Ebner's, which includes very innovative and positive aspects. This is a constant trend in the European Parliament. But I think that in this period we have done our homework and, therefore, in the next legislative period, in 2004, the EP will have to do the same.
ABS: Do you think that Europe takes enough account of the regions and stateless nations
MM: No. We have the Committee of Regions (CoR), but it is just a consultation body, which publishes interesting reports and studies. It is powerless. The European regional way, the way chosen seriously and carefully by our former Catalan President Jordi Pujol, is not the way for Catalunya, despite the efforts and the financial expenditure. This has been shown to be true.
ABS: What will change in Catalunya from the linguistic point of view with this new government
MM:There are a lot of things to do. In spite of the constraints that any Catalan government has, since we are subordinate to the Spanish state government in Madrid, I hope that with the agreements signed with our partners in the Catalan government the linguistic situation will improve. Moreover, according to these agreements, the linguistic policy will be the remit of our 'conseller en cap', Josep Lluis Carod-Rovira. As a linguist and sociolinguist he will find ways to improve the situation of Catalan.
ABS: The legislative period in the European Parliament is drawing to a close. What have been your priorities as MEP
MM: To try to see that Catalunya exists at a European level. On this I have decidedly failed.