Spanish government ministers greet Catalan ministers on Wednesday. / EFE

Catalan ministers win concessions on justice and language at Madrid meeting

This was the third roundtable discussion between regional separatists and national government as part of a cooperation deal

SUR MADRID.

While the separatist regional government in Catalonia would really like Madrid to agree to an independence referendum, it appeared happy this week with significant concessions won from Spanish ministers in a roundtable meeting of both sides.

This was the third time national and regional ministers had sat down together since the turbulent years of the illegal Catalan independence bid. The largest Catalan nationalist party, left-wing ERC, helps keep the minority Socialist administration in power in Madrid with its MPs' votes, and so expects something in return.

The key areas of agreement reached at Wednesday's meeting in Madrid focus on the role of the courts in the illegal independence bid and the role of the Catalan language in Spain.

The first area was vague: to "overcome" the legal prosecution of the Catalan political conflict. Separatist leaders in Catalonia don't want to be taken to court for ongoing independence moves. How the courts could be avoided was not made clear, but measures could include reforms such as making rebellion or sedition a lesser crime.

The second area discussed was to protect and promote the Catalan language more. The national government will look at the Catalan language being used in the Senate, Spain's upper house of parliament, and ask for it to be used in the European Parliament. Madrid will also not make a legal complaint about Catalonia's refusal to follow a court ruling that 25 per cent of school classes there have to be in Spanish and not Catalan.