Thursday, 12 February 2004

Questions (85)

Dan Neville

Question:

63 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on the position regarding the recognition of Irish as an official working language of the European Union; if the Government will be raising this matter at European level during Ireland's Presidency of the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4265/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

The Irish language has the status of a "treaty language" in the European Union. This derives from the fact that the treaties are in Irish, and that in the treaties Irish is listed as one of the languages in which the text is authentic. This means that each successive treaty is published in Irish as well as in the eleven other languages, with the texts in Irish being equally authentic and having equal status with those in all other languages.

It has been the Government's consistent approach to take any appropriate opportunity to enhance the standing of Irish in the European Union, and it has done so in several respects, including the following: the right of citizens to correspond with any of the institutions in Irish was introduced by the Amsterdam treaty and is maintained in the draft constitutional treaty; at our request, an Irish language version of the draft constitutional treaty agreed at the European Convention was also prepared; LINGUA, the European Union's programme for the promotion of language teaching and learning, recognises the Irish language for its projects; most recently, the Government took steps to enhance the standing of the Irish language in the context of the reform of the staff regulations for European Union officials.

The Government remains committed to its policy of monitoring developments with a view to availing itself of any appropriate opportunity which may arise to enhance the status of Irish in the European Union. It is in this spirit that there are ongoing interdepartmental discussions in which all the options available to us are being analysed. I very much hope that these discussions will result in the identification of additional opportunities to enhance the status of Irish in the European Union within a practicable time frame.

Question No. 64 answered with QuestionNo. 23.