EUROPA – Language policy

Our aim is to provide you with information in your own language - or one you can understand - depending on what kind of information you are looking for.

Official languages of the EU

Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish.

Other official languages of EU countries

In future, there will be special rules for languages like Valencian/Catalan, Basque, Galician, etc. Arrangements are being negotiated with the countries concerned, which will have to bear the costs themselves.

Languages in which different information is published on EUROPA

  • Legislation and documents of political importance
    Published in all official languages.
  • Official documents
    Available in at least those languages which were official at the date of publication. Documents which are not legally binding are usually published in English, French and German.
  • General information
    Published in the 13 new official languages (since 2004-13: Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Irish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian) as and when it is translated.
  • Information which is urgent or has a short lifespan
    Not published in all languages.
  • Specialised information (technical information, campaigns, calls for tender) and news / events
    Not necessarily published in all languages – the choice depends on the target audience.

Surprised information isn't available in your language?

EUROPA users are often surprised that a EUROPA page isn't available in their language.

Especially for the countries that recently joined the EU (in 2004, 2007 and 2013), this is simply because we've not yet had time to translate everything.

But some sites are only available in 3, 2 or even 1 language (usually English).

Generally, the languages available on EUROPA depend on the following constraints:

  • translation – we only have (access to) limited numbers of translators and a limited budget for translation (all taxpayers' money)
  • (legal) importance – the public must have access to all legislation and documents of major public importance/interest, so these are produced in all official languages.
    Other documents are translated only into the ("working") languages needed (for example, communication with national authorities, organisations or individuals)
  • cost-effectiveness – to save taxpayers' money, for highly-specialised sites consulted only by relatively small numbers of people, the concern is to ensure most can understand the essence of the information, even if some will have to read official documents in a foreign language
  • urgency – to be relevant, some types of information need to be published rapidly. Since translation takes time, we prefer to publish quickly in the languages understood by the largest number of Europeans, rather than waiting for translations into all languages
  • technical constraints – managing a site in over 20 languages is highly complex, requiring lots of human and financial resources

Taking all this into account, we will be gradually implementing the following approach:

  • the first and second level of each site will contain simple and stable pages giving information for the general public, in all official languages.
    Translations will be published quickly in the 11 languages of the pre-2004 member countries and more slowly for the newer languages
  • pages containing short-lived or very specialised information will generally be published (where possible) in the 3 languages most widely spoken in the EU (English, French and German), although fewer (or other) languages might be used, depending on the audience

CONTACT

General information enquiries

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00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 See details of service

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