The Malta Independent 5 December 2023, Tuesday
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MEP candidate Agius calls out practices undermining Maltese as EU official language

Friday, 12 May 2023, 14:51 Last update: about 8 months ago

Peter Agius, candidate for European election and senior official of the European Parliament, today wrote an open letter to the 21 Permanent Secretaries of the Government with a call for them to change ongoing practices of not communicating in Maltese with the European institutions.

“Maltese is an official language of the European Union but if we do not use it, it will lose its importance in the institutions,” Peter Agius, who headed the European Parliament Office in the past, said in a statement.


In his letter to Principal Permanent Secretary Tony Sultana and Permanent Secretaries and Public Service Directors, Peter Agius explained how the European Commission is obliged by Treaty to communicate with national administrations in all the official languages including Maltese when Government departments write in Maltese. However, this is not being done as Government offices are invariably wavering the right to use Maltese and are systematically writing in the English language instead.

'We have reached the ridiculous situation that the court cases brought by the European Commission in the Court of Justice in Luxembourg are being led in English and not Maltese. Among them is the latest trapping case which is bound to be heard and written in English. There is no other country in Europe that gives up its language rights in this way. I cannot even imagine the French or Poles using a language other than their national language in these fora. The European Commission can now be exempt from using Maltese as it is the Maltese Government itself that is choosing to use only the English language in its formal communication. The irony of this is that the Maltese Courts in Malta generally use the Maltese language. So, we know how to work Maltese legal language in Malta, but can’t do that overseas!”

“I am calling for this malpractice to stop immediately,” Peter Agius appealed to the Permanent Secretaries. “This practice is not only tarnishing the status and dignity of the Maltese language as an official language but is also leading to various services of the European Commission choosing not to employ Maltese personnel simply because the Malta desk can get by in English. This is the worst thing we can do to (not) create traineeships and employment opportunities for Maltese people who want to work with the European institutions. Maltese people have the right to be part of the great European democracy and the Maltese language can increase these opportunities for Maltese professionals throughout Europe and in Malta.'

Peter Agius concludes with an emphasis on the need for investment on greater expertise in public service. ‘As a country we need to invest in greater competence in the public service including linguistic expertise in our official language: Maltese. I will continue to insist that we use all the tools and rights stemming from our membership in the European Union as a candidate for the European Parliament election and as a person who strongly believes in Malta’s European vocation. After 19 years of membership we are now called to continue adapting the European Union and its policies to the needs of Maltese and Gozitan families.'


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