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Catalonia triples fines against businesses not using Catalan

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Catalonia triples fines against businesses not using Catalan
A cafe in Tarragona, Catalonia. Photo: Jake Bellucci/Flickr Creative Commons.
12:35 CEST+02:00
Spain’s separatist-driven northeastern region has stepped up fines against restaurants and bars for not using the local language on things like menus and signs.

The Catalan government revealed in a parliamentary inquiry recently by the conservative Popular Party (PP) that the amount of fines against businesses that did not use Catalan increased by 173 percent in the past year.

The government had issued fines totalling €51,350 in 2014, but by 2015, the fines had soared to €140,000, Spanish media reported this week.

The autonomous region has a language policy that requires businesses to offer their services in Catalan, including on signs, menus, wine lists and prices, according to the government’s website.

Both Catalan and Castilian Spanish are official languages in the autonomous region, but the government’s policy also grants certain protections for the regional tongue.

"The concept of Catalonia's own language applied to Catalan commits the public authorities and institutions in Catalonia to safeguard Catalan, to use it in a general manner and to promote its public use at all levels," the Catalonian government website on the policy states.

Some 68 companies were fined in 2015 over the language policy, up from 57 in 2014, according to El Mundo. Most were bars and restaurants in Barcelona that did not include Catalan on their menus.

And more than 20 of the companies fined were based in places outside of Catalonia.

So far this year, 89 companies had pending disciplinary proceedings regarding their lack of Catalan.

The regional PP party announced that they would now propose a reform to the language policy and return the money from the fines to the businesses

The region’s current push for independence has already had a negative impact on businesses, leading to an exodus of roughly 1,000 firms in 2014.
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