Welsh gains new status in EU

The use of Welsh on the international stage takes a major step forward today [15 July] following a decision by the European Union Council of Ministers. They have decided that in future, Ministers will be able to speak in Welsh when representing the UK at the Council of Ministers and have their words translated simultaneously. Citizens will also be able to write in Welsh to office holders at the Council.

The decision of the Council is based on three way co-operation with the Council, the UK Government and the Welsh Assembly Government. The arrangement will become operative after a panel of Welsh interpreters have been assessed as meeting the international proficiency level demanded by the EU institutions. The decision will open the way for negotiations with other EU institutions to allow for a use of Welsh. The commitment to make an official application to the Council of Ministers for the Welsh language to receive official EU language and working language status was included in the One Wales agreement, which celebrates its first anniversary today.

Speaking after today’s Council decision, the First Minister Rhodri Morgan said: "This is an historic development for the Welsh language and shows recognition in the European Union for cultural and linguistic diversity. It illustrates how strong co-operation between the Welsh Assembly Government and the UK government can bring about practical outcomes for Wales in Europe."

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