CATALUNYA'S regional government has decided to ignore a High Court of Justice ruling preventing them from insisting upon fluency in catalán in civil servants.
According to the region's language policy, a level of catalán equivalent to post-graduate and with a qualification to prove it, even for native speakers, is a prerequisite for all public sector jobs – even filing clerks and road sweepers.
The same is true of other regions with a co-official language, including Valencia, Galicia, the Balearic Islands and the Basque Country.
Catalunya requires its customer-facing civil servants to speak to members of the public in catalán only, and not to change to Spanish unless and until the resident asks them to do so.
But the regional High Court has overturned this and scrapped the requirement to be able to speak catalán fluently, or for it to take precedence over Spanish.
Leader of Catalunya's language policy team, Ester Franquesa, said the verdict was 'worrying', had 'no legal grounds', and that her department did not intend to change the rules.
She calls it 'political' rather than 'law-based', and says the requirements have been in place for 'over 35 years'.
“The verdict will change nothing,” announced public affairs management leader Meritxell Borràs.
“We do not intend to appeal, because it is not a legal decision and relates merely to politics.”
The court says it based its decision on legal precedent set by judges interpreting the Spanish Constitution, which allows all residents in regions with more than one language the equal right to use whichever they wish.
And the pressure group Impulso Ciudadano, which is fighting against Spanish being relegated to second place in Catalunya, championed the verdict.
The case was brought to the High Court of Justice by a doctor at Tarragona city hospital after he was reprimanded for speaking in Spanish.
A judge found that the regional government was 'forcing catalán on health professionals', because the rules state that even if the patient responds to the doctor or nurse in Spanish, the medical worker is still required to speak catalán unless expressly asked not to.
The court concluded this left natives of other regions in Spain who had moved to Catalunya at a disadvantage, because they may not be able to get a job in the public sector due to lack of fluency in catalán.