SUBSIDIES totalling 200'000 euros are being made available by the Heritage department of the Council of Majorca to those companies on the island who are prepared to upgrade the use of Catalan in their business activities and promotion.

Of this total 30'000 euros will be shared out amongst magazine publications, 3'000 euros will go to almanacs, and 167'000 will be made available for purposes of labelling, printing material, restaurant menu cards, web pages and internet sites.

It was on 15th June, 2001 when a law was passed in the Balearics declaring that everyone in the region had the right to be given service in any one of the official languages of the Islands. It also established that signposting, information posters and details of services offered should be, at least, in Catalan.

The legislation simultaneously ordered that local government should progressively promote the use of the Catalan language in commerce, in shop signs and in advertisements.

Finally, the law declared that shopkeepers should inform their clients of their linguistic rights through pinning up appropriate explanatory information on the premises where it can clearly be seen.

Not all companies operating in the Balearic Islands have taken kindly to the legislation. Low cost airline Air Berlin which uses Palma airport as an international transit hub, responded angrily when the Balearic government wrote to its senior management saying that the safety cards and information leaflets on board planes flying to and from the Balearic Islands should be in Catalan as well as German and English. A diplomatic solution was finally found to what threatened to become a political dispute.


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