(Bloomberg) -- Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s bid to convince separatists to hand him the votes he needs to secure another term was kept afloat on Tuesday by his government’s efforts to have Catalan added as an official European Union language.
The bloc’s European affairs ministers agreed at a meeting in Brussels to continue discussions on Spain’s proposal for Catalan, Basque and Galician to be adopted.
Junts per Catalunya separatists see this as a positive first step, according to a person familiar with the thinking of the party leadership, who pointed out that no member state blocked the plan. It also appears to show a clear commitment from the government, the person said.
Still, ministers meeting in Brussels sought a delay on a decision due to concerns in many EU capitals about the legal and political consequences, as well as the extra costs and administrative burden resulting from adding Catalan to its official list.
Spain’s foreign minister, Jose Manuel Albares, said the government will now focus its efforts on Catalan rather than pushing for all three languages in order to allay some worries.
“Spain wants to move as fast as possible on this,” he told reporters after the meeting. “Now we will try to answer all the comments and doubts.”
Sanchez would need the support of Junts’ seven lawmakers to win a confidence vote and another term after an inconclusive general election in July. First, his main rival Alberto Nunez Feijoo, who leads the center-right People’s Party and came closer to getting a majority, will face a ballot on Sept. 26-27. However, he is widely expected to fall short.
Junts leader Carles Puigdemont, who has been in self-exile in Brussels since leading a botched secession attempt in 2017, has said an EU decision to include Catalan would help his party determine Sanchez’ commitment to resolve the territorial conflict. As part of conditions to back the incumbent’s bid for a new term, he has asked for a sweeping amnesty for hundreds of officials and politicians linked to the unilateral referendum.
If both Sanchez and Feijoo fail to muster a majority in parliament in the coming months, new elections will be called for early next year, keeping the euro area’s fourth-largest economy in political limbo for months.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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