European Language Scheme Makes Room For Gaelic

06 April 2005
"Gaelic speakers will now be able to promote their language skills across the EU"

Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith today welcomed the news that the European Commission has belatedly made room for Gaelic as part of the EU's Europass scheme.

Europass was designed as a CV and language passport scheme to help people looking for work promote their skills across the EU. When the website was launched MEP Alyn Smith found that Gaelic had been excluded from the options on the language passport.

On discovering the exclusion of Gaelic Mr Smith wrote to European Education Commissioner Jan Figel and encouraged him to change the site and make space for Gaelic.

In response to Mr Smith's letter Commissioner Figel stated his support for the promotion of linguistic diversity and said that the "flaw" in the Europass internet site had now been rectified. Gaelic speakers are now able to declare Gaelic as their mother tongue or their second language.

Reacting to the change Alyn Smith MEP said:

"I am please that Gaelic has now been included in the scheme. It was unfortunate that we have had to ask for Gaelic to be included, it should be automatic, but I am happy the situation has been rectified. Gaelic language skills are valuable across Europe and Gaelic speakers should be treated in the same way as speakers of any other European language. I am glad the Commission have seen sense and changed the scheme. "

Western Isles Parliamentary Candidate Angus MacNeil welcomed the Commission's change of heart.

"Alyn Smith has done well with his efforts by promoting Gaelic at a European level. Total credit has to go to Alyn on this one. He told me that he was pushing this about a month ago, as a Gaelic speaker I am pleased with the commitment to Gaelic throughout the SNP, which Alyn's efforts demonstrate. Secure status and a Gaelic TV channel must follow."