The EU Council of Ministers is the key decision-making body of the European Union, through which all national governments participate in the decisions of the European Union. The EU Council is the primary authority for decisions on the use of languages within the EU and takes these decisions at the request of the Member State concerned. No EU institution can provide services in a particular language if the Member State concerned does not request this. For example, France has never requested the inclusion of Breton in EU affairs, thus, EU institutions do not use Breton.
In July 2005 the EU Council created a new category of languages, next to the existing category of "official languages" (23 languages), and called these "co-official" languages. This was done at the request of the Spanish Government, who wanted to include Catalan, Basque and Galician in EU affairs. Co-official languages can receive certain services in the EU, such as for example interpretation during meetings, translation of final legislation or the possibility for citizens to correspond with EU institutions in the language.
Since 2005, the Welsh Assembly Government worked hard on an initiative to include Welsh in EU affairs as a co-official language. Through the close collaboration between the UK Government and the Welsh Assembly Government this was achieved in the EU Council during July 2008. The European Commission immediately welcomed this news and congratulated the governments on this achievement. Following this, a similar agreement was signed with the EU's Committee of the Regions in 2008 and a more limited agreement has now been signed with the European Commission on 9 July 2009.
For more information, please contact Rachael Langlands-Brown, Press Officer at the European Commission Office in Wales (tel. 029-20895024 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org ).