This project has its starting point in the collaboration between the three institutions that exert a significant weight in the process to normalise the Basque language: the Chartered Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa, Kontseilua (The Council of Social Organisations supporting Basque) and the UEMA (The Association of Basque-speaking Town Councils) have joined forces to go on taking steps forward in the Basque-speaking town councils. So the Chartered Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa and the UEMA have developed a new system of working that aims to incorporate precautions into the planning tools corresponding to each of the administrations. For example, they have developed a system for evaluating the language impact that goes by the name of ELE in Basque (Eragin Linguistikoa Ebaluatzeko – a tool for evaluating the language impact).
And the fact is that a hiatus has been observed in the more clearly Basque-speaking sociolinguistic environments: the proportion of Basque speakers has fallen in all the municipalities in the area and this hiatus can also be seen in the data on the use of Basque in public. According to the experts, the conditions enabling one to live in Basque or not are highly volatile and largely depend on the action of individuals or the institutions. For example, language experts highlight the fact that the geographical changes that have taken place in villages and towns are exerting an effect on the development of the languages. So to create the conditions and put in place the necessary means to live in Basque, it is necessary to take all the social aspects into consideration, including those relating to the development of the land, its spatial and urban planning.
So to promote and broaden the number of living spaces for Basque, the UEMA and Kontseilua signed a collaboration agreement in 2012 to preserve, promote and extend the number of Basque-speaking municipalities, in other words, those that have a majority of Basque-speaking inhabitants.
The main aim of this agreement is to anticipate and measure how the intervention of the social organisations can influence the situation of Basque in the Basque-speaking municipalities and also to correct or alleviate the possible damage by means of corrective measures.
To enable the Basque-speaking municipalities to go on living in Basque and so that their sociolinguistic make-up does not change, the following measures, among others, need to be taken:
- The precaution parameter needs to be incorporated into the public institutions so that their usual activity does not harm the social life and cultural development of these Basque-speaking areas.
- The number of living spaces for Basque need to be increased and its sphere of influence expanded. This is in fact the natural itinerary in the normalisation process: to get the potential living spaces of Basque to turn into real living spaces.