The EU's multilingualism policy has 2 facets:
There are currently 24: Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish and Swedish.
As an EU citizen, you have the right to use any of these languages in correspondence with the EU institutions, which have to reply in the same language. EU regulations and other legislative texts are published in all official languages except Irish (only regulations adopted by both the EU Council and the European Parliament are currently translated into Irish).
In the European Parliament, the people's elected representatives also have the right to speak in any of the EU's official languages.
The EU provides general information about its policies in all its official languages. More specialised content is provided in the most widely spoken EU languages.
The EU is home to over 60 indigenous regional or minority languages, spoken by some 40 million people. They include Basque, Catalan, Frisian, Saami, Welsh and Yiddish.
While it is national governments that determine these languages' legal status and the extent to which they receive support, the European Commission maintains an open dialogue, encouraging linguistic diversity to the extent possible.
Erasmus+ , a new EU programme that encompasses education and training, is a potential source of funds for initiatives to protect and promote the teaching and learning of minority languages.
One of the EU's multilingualism goals is for every European to speak 2 languages in addition to their mother tongue. The best way to achieve this would be to introduce children to 2 foreign languages from an early age. Evidence suggests this may speed up language learning - and boost mother tongue skills too.
The EU supports language learning because:
The 2012 Eurobarometer survey on Europeans and their languages [8 MB] revealed very positive attitudes to multilingualism:
The working group on languages in education and training focused on this issue from 2011 to 2013. Its comparative analysis resulted in a 2014 report on innovative, scientifically proven methods of speeding up language learning [2 MB] , which examines: