`Cheating Only Way' to Get Language Grants from Europe; FINANCE: Money `Diverted through Education'

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Byline: TOMOS LIVINGSTONE

SCHEMES to support the Welsh language are having to cheat to secure European grant money.

No cash from Brussels reaches schemes here through the normal channels because of political infighting and strict anti-corruption rules, it was claimed last night.

Instead money has to come from funds intended to be spent elsewhere - and publicly announced as such. Politicians representing Wales and other EU regions where minority languages are spoken are keen to expose the system and have launched a petition calling for a more open and transparent means of funding.

Wales Euro-MP Eurig Wyn said the workings of the EU meant it was impossible for minority languages to get money through the legal channels. At present all schemes have to be agreed unanimously by the Council of Ministers, regardless of the recommendations of Euro-MPs.

This has proved unworkable due to internal conflicts between powerful states, such as France, and minority linguistic groups such as Bretons.

There have also been problems with Macedonian minorities in Greece and Catalan and Basque schemes in Spain.

Welsh has been caught in the polit-ical crossfire, meaning the only way to get EU funding is to divert cash through the education budget - in effect, to cheat the system.

Schemes like the Mercantor language promotion programme in Aberystwyth were missing out, said Mr Wyn, because of the added bureaucracy needed to move money through various budgets instead of funding them directly.

Mr Wyn has launched a petition calling for changes to the system.

He said the current system had been reduced to a lottery, adding, ``Any funding programme in the EU must have a legal base. Money towards minority languages was being diverted through other funding channels like education because it had no legal framework through which funds could be transferred directly. …