Aside from the 23 official EU languages, many regional and minority languages are spoken in Europe. The EU strives to protect this linguistic diversity and promote the learning of languages.
There are currently 23 official EU languages.
The current official EU languages are: Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish and Swedish.
Citizens have the right to send documents to the EU institutions in any of these languages, and to receive a reply in the same language. All EU regulations and other legislative documents are also published in each of these languages.
In the European Parliament, the people's elected representatives also have the right to speak in any of the EU official languages.
The vast amount of information on the web about the EU and all its activities cannot be provided in every official language. The EU offers core information about its policies, and documents related to funding opportunities, in all languages. Other content is provided in the most widely spoken EU languages.
The EU is home to more than 60 indigenous regional or minority languages, spoken by around 40 million people. They include Catalan, Basque, Frisian, Saami, Welsh and Yiddish.
EU policy is to protect and promote minority languages and a number of initiatives have been funded with this objective.
Introducing children to foreign languages from an early age can be very beneficial.
The goal is for every person in the EU to speak two languages in addition to their mother tongue. To help achieve that goal, the EU is in favour of introducing children to two foreign languages from an early age. Evidence suggests this may result in faster language learning and more advanced mother-tongue skills.
The EU provides support for language learning because:
A 2006 survey found 28% of respondents already claiming to speak two foreign languages, and 56% able to speak one. Only a minority of Europeans consider language learning unimportant – just 8% in 2006.