EU Language Policy
Promoting multilingualism is central to the European Union’s language policy. In 2004, explicit responsibility for multilingualism was included in a European Commissioner’s portfolio for the first time.
Multilingualism can be defined as the ability to use several languages, but it also refers to the co-existence of different language communities in one geographical area. The Commission is dedicated to promoting a climate conducive to the full expression of all languages, in which the learning of a variety of languages can flourish. This commitment encompasses the official languages of the EU, as well as the 60 or so regional and minority languages spoken in the Union and the numerous languages that are spoken among the large migrant communities in the Member States.
The Commission’s first ever Communication on Multilingualism “A New Framework Strategy for Multilingualism” was adopted in November 2005. The Communication complements the Commission’s Action Plan “Promoting Language Learning and Linguistic Diversity”.
- ensuring that citizens have access to EU legislation, procedures and information in their own language
- underlining the major role that languages and multilingualism play in the European economy, and finding ways to develop this further
- encouraging all citizens to learn and speak more languages, in order to improve mutual understanding and communication
Member States are invited to establish national plans to promote multilingualism, and the Commission is also working with them to implement the European Indicator of Language Competence, a measure to gather reliable data on the foreign language skills of young people.