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IP/07/1395

Brussels, 26 September 2007

The Commission launches a Have Your Say corner and an on-line consultation on multilingualism

The consultation process on multilingualism has entered a new phase: consultation with stakeholders and the general public. An online consultation has been launched and a Have Your Say corner is also available on Commissioner Leonard Orban's website. So far, the consultation has included dialogue with governments and authorities from Member States, with multilingualism experts and with intellectuals and companies.

With the enlargements over the past three years, the number of languages spoken in the EU has more than doubled: 23 are recognised today as official languages, and there are over 40 more spoken by regional or ethnic minorities. Linguistic diversity is incontestably one of the most characteristic features of the Union, affecting the social, cultural and professional lives of its citizens as well as the economic and political activities of its Member States. The European Commission is seeking to adapt its policies and actions in the area of languages, so as to reflect the reality of an EU with over 450 million citizens and over 60 different mother tongues, and the opinions of individuals, stakeholders, businesses and policy makers are all welcome.

"The European Commission has a clear role in promoting multilingualism", the Commissioner responsible for multilingualism, Leonard Orban, says, adding that "in order to define the best way forward for our policy on multilingualism, we need to know the needs and expectations of citizens, of stakeholders, of companies, of Member States. The results of these parallel consultation processes will feed into a Commission policy statement, in the form of a Communication on Multilingualism, in 2008."

The online consultation comprises 16 questions and runs until 15 November 2007. The results of the survey will be made available in the first half of 2008. The consultation will explore issues such as:

  • What ways are there to safeguard the place of less spoken languages against a common trend of 'one lingua franca?
  • What role can languages play in integrating migrants into society?
  • Are the costs of a multilingual EU administration worth paying?

On this European Day of Languages, Commissioner Orban has also started a 'Have your say' corner on his website, thus allowing European citizens to contribute their views to the Commission and to debate questions related to languages.

The overall consultation process on multilingualism also comprises other ongoing activities:

  • Discussions with authorities in Member States;
  • Discussions with experts on multilingualism. The recommendations of the High Level Group on Multilingualism were presented to the Commissioner on the European Day of Languages (26.09.2007);
  • A group of intellectuals and experts analysing how multilingualism can contribute to the inter-cultural dialogue has been set up;
  • Consultation with companies. A Business Conference was held on 21 September in Brussels and will be followed by a Business Forum in November, in Lisbon.

The online consultation is available at

http://ec.europa.eu/education/multiling/

The "Have your say" corner is available at : http://forums.ec.europa.eu/multilingualism/en/


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