(Bloomberg) -- Several European Union countries expressed reservations about a Spanish proposal to add Catalan to the list of the bloc’s official languages, potentially complicating Pedro Sanchez’s attempt to court domestic separatist parties in his bid to win another term as Spanish prime minister.
More than half of EU governments — including France, Germany and Sweden — have said that they need to examine the legal and political consequences of the proposal, the additional costs the move would incur and the administrative burden, according to people familiar with the discussions. The concerns were expressed in a closed-door meeting of EU ambassadors Friday.
Adding a language requires support from all 27 member states, with Croatian being the last addition in 2013. EU European affairs ministers will discuss the Spanish proposal in Brussels later Tuesday.
The request is part of Sanchez’s efforts to meet the demands of the pro-independence party Junts per Catalunya, led by Carles Puigdemont, and secure enough votes for getting a majority in parliament after an inconclusive July election.
Failure to deliver would significantly weaken Sanchez’s position and would require him to present additional guarantees for any future promises and win the support of pro-independence forces, people familiar with the discussion said.
Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium after the illegal independence referendum held in Catalonia in October 2017, has also called for an amnesty for pro-independence supporters, including himself, as a precondition for his backing.
Madrid had been hoping for an agreement at the ministerial meeting due Tuesday. But around 10 capitals, including Paris, Berlin and Helsinki, considered any decision at the gathering would be premature and requested a legal opinion, according to the people who asked not to be named on confidential talks.
To meet some of the concerns raised by member states, Spain told EU envoys that it would be ready to cover costs resulting from the proposal.
The Spanish government formally requested last month the inclusion of Catalan, Basque and Galician in the language regime of the EU.
Spain argued that these regional languages already have constitutional status in Spain and citizens can already use them in all EU institutions, except for the European Parliament, although Madrid recently requested their use in the EU chamber.
Following Spain’s July election, Alberto Nunez Feijoo, leader of the conservative People’s Party, was tasked by King Felipe VI to try to cobble together an administration. Feijoo will face a so-called investiture vote on Sept. 26 and 27 to see if he has the support of parliament. If he loses, as is widely expected, Sanchez would then try to form a government in the following weeks.
--With assistance from Rodrigo Orihuela and Kevin Whitelaw.
(Updates timing in the third paragraph. An earlier version corrected the date of the election.)
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