SNP MEP Ian Hudghton has criticised the EU for failing to back new proposals to promote multilingualism across Europe.

Mr Hudghton was responding to the result of a vote in the European Parliament today which saw a raft of new plans to support languages such as Gaelic and Scots heavily watered down. The vote upheld the right to an education in a pupil's native language but rejected plans to change EU laws to allow for EU backed schemes to be delivered in lesser used languages.

The SNP has been working in Europe to improve the status of the Scots and Gaelic languages with a view to winning European backing for projects to develop the languages.

Speaking after the vote in Strasbourg, Mr Hudghton said:

"It's a shame that a majority of MEPs didn't have the courage to back equality for all of Europe's languages, whether they are the official languages of the Member State or not.

"We mustn't forget that there are an estimated forty six million speakers of lesser used languages such as Scots, Gaelic, Welsh, Catalan and Basque. These people have every right to expect to be treated equally by the European Union and be able to communicate with its institutions in their own languages.

"I would like to commend my Catalan colleague Bernat Joan for his hard work in drawing up these proposals. It's been the fruit of many months of hard work and he has made a significant contribution to taking the debate on multilingualism in Europe to a new level. Some of his more far reaching suggestions may have been too much for some conservatives, but I'm sure that in time this will change.

"The EU's slogan is meant to be 'Unity in Diversity' but this isn't borne out by the attitude of many in the European Parliament and European Commission to promoting multilingualism. We are supposedly to have a European Commissioner for multilingualism - I hope that for him multilingualism will mean more than just the official languages of the big member states."

Note:

MEPs voted in favour of an amended report by Bernat Joan MEP (Catalonia) on proposals to improve the European Commission's Framework Strategy for Multilingualism.

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