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Presided by the Secretary of State for Regional Cooperation
The Central Government creates a new Official Languages Council
- The remit of this collegiate body encompasses the analysis, promotion and technical coordination between different Ministries in relation to the use of Spain’s official languages
- Its main purpose is to guarantee compliance in Central Government with applicable regulations in this area and raise awareness in Spanish society of the values of plurilingualism
- The Council is supporting the Government’s commitment to increase respect and promote citizens’ linguistic rights, with the support of the Official Languages Office
28th January 2008. Spain’s Central Government set up the new Official Languages Council today, part of the Ministry of Public Administrations, presided by the Secretary of State for Regional Cooperation, Fernando Puig de la Bellacasa.
The Council is a collegiate body dedicated to the analysis, promotion and technical coordination between different Ministries in relation to the use of official languages. Its primary purpose is to guarantee compliance in Central Government with applicable regulations in this area.
At its constituent session, the Council provided a very positive evaluation of compliance with legislation, highlighting the major progress made in terms of promoting plurilingualism and guaranteeing the linguistic rights of citizens who reside in autonomous regions with joint official languages.
INITIATIVES TO IMPROVE TRANSLATIONS
On the 28th December of last year, the Cabinet approved a Development Plan for Act 11/2007, governing public electronic access to public services. The measures contained in the Plan include a pledge to implement in 2008 a translation assistance platform in any ministries and public bodies that require it, which will allow them to speed up the translation process of contents into joint official languages, as well as into foreign languages, especially English.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Justice has completed a series of trials on an automatic translation system for certificates and other documentation produced for citizens by public registers, which would speed up entry into registers located in bilingual regions.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, through the Language Interpretation Office, is translating the consolidated texts of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union into Spain’s official languages, which will soon be made available to all citizens.
Finally, the Official State Bulletin (BOE), in conjunction with Catalonia’s Regional Government (Generalitat), is defining a mechanism that will significantly reduce the time currently taken to translate and publish State legislation in Catalan. This procedure could be extended to other Autonomous Regions which have agreements in place with the BOE for the publication of laws in other languages.
CREATION OF THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGES OFFICE
The Council is supporting the Government’s commitment to improve respect and promote the linguistic rights of citizens, with the administrative support of an Official Languages Office.
The Office’s first task is to provide a status update regarding compliance with current legislation. For this purpose, it has drafted a questionnaire that will be sent to all Government delegations in regions with a joint official language in order to obtain reliable information in relation to Central Government in a short period of time.
This questionnaire will ask about the availability of standardised models, printed material, labels, road signage and billboards in different joint official languages, as well as the recruitment of staff to respect the right of citizens to communicate with state bodies located in their region in their respective autonomous languages.
The Ministry of Public Administrations, through the National Institute of Public Administration, has expressed its commitment to expand training programmes in the area of joint official languages for Central Government employees, in response to requests made by the different departments.
In this Government’s current term of office, a total of 19,154 government employees have received language training, involving 67,197 teaching hours and a total cost of €1.84 million.
Over the next few days, the website of the Official Languages Council will go on line, available through website of the Ministry of Public Administrations.