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225 languages

2009/09/26

Today is the European Day of Languages. There is sometimes a tendency that everything we value should have a day of its own, but I would say that the European multilingualism deserves its celebration. The rich diversity of languages and cultures in Europe is to be proud of. There are about 225 indigenous languages in Europe – a fact that of course has political implications. Being able to understand and communicate as a citizen is essential in a democracy, and we look positively upon the diversity of languages.

When it comes to the EU, there are of course a fine balance between multilingualism and efficiency. The fact that we use 23 languages in the European Parliament is necessary to safeguard that citizens can follow debates, and that all MEP’s enjoy the same degree of influence. However, it goes without saying that translation also slows down the work of the Union. As far as the Council of Ministers is concerned, I believe we need to come down to a few working languages, for instance at our informal meetings.

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