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Plaid Cymru puts pressure on Foreign Secretary to give status to Welsh in Europe
by Huw Morgan Plaid Cymru, the Welsh national party, will put pressure on the British Foreign Minister Jack Straw to give Welsh official Treaty language status within the European Union. Representatives of the party will meet Mr Straw in the next few weeks but before then they have started a
Jacques-Yves Le Touze pour Eurolang le 28/07/04 8:21

by Huw Morgan Plaid Cymru, the Welsh national party, will put pressure on the British Foreign Minister Jack Straw to give Welsh official Treaty language status within the European Union. Representatives of the party will meet Mr Straw in the next few weeks but before then they have started a campaign to make him support the language in Europe before the referendum on the European constitution. If Plaid Cymru were successful, Welsh speakers would be able to write letters and receive a reply from the European Union in Welsh. This is already possible when writing, not only to the National Assembly in Cardiff, but also with various departments of the British government. Giving official Treaty language status would also mean that the European Constitution would be translated into Welsh before the referendum for the Constitution’s acceptance in Britain, which is likely to be held sometime in 2006. Representatives of Plaid Cymru will meet the Foreign Secretary within the next few weeks to discuss a five part plan to make the Constitution more relevant to people, and the proposal on the status of the Welsh language is one of the five. "It would make dealing with Europe a less alienating experience for people such as farmers, who have to deal with a huge amount of EU legislation and regulation," says Simon Thomas, member of parliament for Ceredigion, in Welsh speaking Wales. "They can write to the British government departments in Welsh, and get a reply in Welsh, so why not the European Commissioners?" In the meeting with Jack Straw Plaid Cymru will ask, not only for support for the language in Europe, but also – * That the Welsh Assembly be consulted before the European Commission published proposals relevant to its powers. * That one of the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, rather than the House of Lords, be granted one of Britain’s two votes on relevant issues. In any matter that goes against subsidiarity, member states can vote on it. One vote if the state has one chamber, two votes if like Britain it has two chambers, and that second vote now goes to the House of Lords. * That the Assembly be represented on British delegations to the EU Council of Ministers. *That the results of the referendum should be declared separately for Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland as there will be distinctive debates in the different nations. Two who will be in the meeting with Jack Straw will be the European Member Jill Evans and Elfyn Llwyd, member of parliament for Welsh-speaking Meirionnydd-Nant Conwy. "We are requesting that the Constitution is translated into the Welsh language, in the same way as it will be translated into Irish and Catalan," says Ms Evans. "The very least the British Government could do is to translate this hugely important document into Welsh. I very much hope Jack Straw takes our requests seriously and gives commitment to the people of Wales that the Welsh language and the National Assembly for Wales will be awarded due respect by the British Government." "Plaid Cymru was the first party in Britain to call for a written European Constitution and a binding Charter of Fundamental Rights, therefore, in principle we are in favour of the European Constitution," says Mr Llwyd. "For the first time, the powers and structures of the Union will be set out in a single document and we believe the institutional reform is necessary for a growing union of 25 members. Having said that, in the next two years, commencing with our meeting with Jack Straw, we will be concentrating on what requests can be made to the British Government in the course of preparing a referendum bill to ensure the people of Wales are fully represented in Europe."

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Eurolang? is a specialist niche news agency covering topics related to lesser-used languages, linguistic diversity, stateless nations and national minorities within the European Union. It provides an expanding on-line daily service across Europe, to NGOs, the media, European, State and local government, academia, researchers and the general public. The purpose of Eurolang is to provide, on a daily basis, relevant and current news about Europe's regional, stateless and minority language communities, numbering some 46 million speakers, to the general public and to national and regional media (newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, internet media) in Europe and worldwide.
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