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Wednesday, October 20, 1999 Published at 08:43 GMT 09:43 UK

UK: Wales

Euro row over 'unofficial' Welsh language

Cultural commissioner Viviane Reding has voived support

Schemes to develop and promote the Welsh language will miss out on European funding next year because Welsh is not deemed an official language.

Under the European Year of Language Project to be launched next year, only two minority languages - Gaelic and Luxemburgish - will qualify for the funding.

All-Wales MEP Eurig Wyn and Conservative AM David Davies discuss the problems of the Welsh Language Act
The problem arises under the Welsh Language Act.

[ image: Eirug Wyn wants the Assembly and UK Government to act]
Eirug Wyn wants the Assembly and UK Government to act
It deemed that Welsh was a "language of equal status" rather than an "official language".

Plaid Cymru MEP Eurig Wyn says he is "astounded" that the Welsh will lose out on participating in such an European event.

Pressing cultural commissioner Viviane Reding on support for minority languages at a hearing of the European Parliament, the all-Wales MEP described the situation as "unbelievable".

He is now calling on the Assembly and the UK Government to recognise Welsh as an official language in the UK.

"As Welsh is not an official language, it will not receive a single Euro,"he said.

"The aims of the European Year of Languages is to increase awareness of language diversity within Europe and to encourage language learning on all levels.

"It confirms our concerns for years that the Welsh Language Act did not give Welsh the official status it now clearly requires if it is to benefit fully from European support."

EU commissioner support

Commissioner Reding has already voiced her support for the rights of all lesser used languages.

She said she wanted to get rid of the term minority language.

"In my opinion every language is important no matter by how many people it's spoken," she added.

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