MEP Candidate and EU expert Peter Agius criticised the government for “systematically” giving up its right to use the Maltese language in European affairs.
“This is absolutely unacceptable. I can’t imagine any other EU Member State treating their own language like this,” Agius explained in a letter to the National Council of the Maltese language on the European Day of Languages.
“It is undeniable that Malta won’t receive respect unless we respect ourselves first.”
When Malta joined the European Union in 2004, Brussels adopted an exemption clause for the Maltese language, meaning that English could be substituted in situations deemed fit.
“I fought for this not to be extended,” the MEP hopeful continued, saying he made it a point to always use Maltese when corresponding with EU officials and expected a reply back in the national language, too.
However, it seems that the Maltese Government is not giving the language the importance it needs on a European level.
“This is clear in several instances,” Agius continued. In the European Court of Justice, the Maltese Government has repeatedly waivered its right to have the hearings in Maltese.”
In fact, out of 21 cases involving Malta in recent years, there were only eight instances where Maltese was used.
“That same attitude of contempt for our language is now also seen in a whole series of decisions and written correspondence of the Maltese Government with the European Commission,” he warned, after a declaration to waiver our right to correspond with the EU in Maltese was signed.
“Instead our government writes and awaits responses in English.”
“It is therefore sad and angry for me to find that the Maltese Government, which should implement and safeguard its achievements and dignity in Europe, is systematically giving up and renouncing our right as Maltese to speak, write and receive answers in Maltese.”
The government has denied Aguis’ accusations, saying the waiver is only used in extraordinary cases, to facilitate the Commission’s work faster, as translations require additional time.
“This is not a general waiver,” a government spokesperson replied, adding that it is common practice with other Member States.
“As the text clearly suggests, it is an exceptional waiver that is applicable strictly to the Decision in question, and this to allow for a quick notification.”
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