Local politicians demand Gaelic recognition

16 February 2005
Scottish Nationalist MEP Alyn Smith and local MSP Rob Gibson today demanded greater recognition of Gaelic in the European Union as they welcomed the Commission's response to concerns over the inclusion of Welsh in a European employment scheme.

The 'Europass' scheme, hailed as a new European jobseekers passport when it was launched at the beginning of the month, ignored the existence of Gaelic and Welsh when it came to recognising linguistic skills.

The European Commission has now said it will include Welsh in the scheme and local MEP Alyn Smith, along with MSP Rob Gibson, on their way to visit the Western Isles with local Westminster candidate Angus MacNeil, have called for Gaelic to receive the same status.

Mr Smith has written to Europe's Education Commissioner Jan Figel calling for the snub to be rectified.

Calling for the Commission to include Gaelic, Alyn Smith MEP said:

"I urge Commissioner Figel to admit his mistake and include Gaelic in the Europass scheme. There is no good reason why the approximately 60,000 Gaelic speakers in Scotland and many more around the world should not be able to declare their skills in the language. I welcome Mr Figel's swift action and his mature decision to apologise for the exclusion of Welsh and hope he will soon reach the same conclusion with regard to Gaelic."

The Europass scheme has the potential to stimulate jobs and help growth by making it easier for people to look for work in other EU countries. As such it is absolutely vital that the snub to Gaelic should be put right."

MSP Rob Gibson said:

"Sabhal Mor Ostaig has been highly successful in training business graduates through the medium of Gaelic; this could offer gateways to many countries for Gaelic speakers. Their exclusion is unthinkable."

The 'Europass' is made up of a series of documents that can be completed online including a 'Language Passport' to demonstrate an individual's linguistic skills. Previously, the document allowed people to select their mother tongue from a dropdown list that ranged from Arabic to Turkish and included Catalan, Hebrew, Bulgarian, Korean as well as English. But the list does not allow users to list Gaelic either as their mother tongue or as a second language.


The 'Europass' scheme was launched by EU Education Commissioner Jan Figel at a ceremony in Luxembourg at the beginning of the month. The scheme, designed to make it easier for job seekers in Europe, draws together five existing elements, namely the Europass CV, Language Passport, Europass Mobility (record of experience abroad), Diploma Supplement and a Certificate Supplement.

More information can be found on the Europass website at http://europass.cedefop.eu.int/europass


Alyn Smith MEP
Rob Gibson MSP

Alyn Smith MEP and Rob Gibson MSP will be carrying out constituency visits in the Western Isles from Thursday 17th February to Saturday 19th February.