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European Commission launches consultation on multilingualism

The Directorate for Education and Culture of the European Commission has launched a consultation on multilingualism.  The exercise, which is to focus on the Europe’s citizens at large, is to prepare a Communication that would be adopted in 2008.

The consultation is structured into six thematic blocks:

  • why people should learn foreign languages;
  • in which ways they should learn them;
  • what the role of languages should be in our multicultural and multi-ethnic societies;
  • how languages are and should be used in businesses;
  • how languages can serve to integrate immigrants; and
  • which role languages should play inside the European institutions.

The latter is remarkable, since the Commission bluntly questions whether the substantial sums the Union spends on translation and interpreting are well-invested. On the other hand, the consultation does not explore different languages and their wieght, and does not address the question of a lingua franca for Europe.

The European Commission has a long-standing commitment to language learning and linguistic diversity. It is this institution’s key belief that the European project can only work if as many citizens as possible are able to speak as many European languages as possible.  With a growing number of languages in the Union, and the increasing importance of non-European languages in the 21st century, this strategy is not regarded as realistic by everyone anymore.

Europa website- multilingualism