Cultural diversity

Cultural policies and measures - Best practices

The European Commission launches a “Have Your Say” corner and an online consultation on multilingualism

In a September 29, 2007 press release, the European Commission announced that the consultation process on multilingualism has entered a new phase of 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. The press release notes that, so far, the consultation has included dialog with Member State governments and authorities, multilingualism experts, intellectuals, and companies.

The EC stresses that with the enlargements of the past three years, the number of languages spoken in the EU has more than doubled: 23 are recognized 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 press release continues, “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,” says Leonard Obran, the Commissioner responsible for multilingualism, 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.”

According to the European Commission, the 16 question online consultation runs until November 15, 2007. The results of the survey will be made available in the first half of 2008. The press release notes that 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?

For its part, the “Have your say” corner aims to allow European citizens to share their views with the Commission and to debate language-related issues.

Lastly, 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 (September 26, 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 held on September 21 in Brussels will be followed by a Business Forum in Lisbon in November

The online consultation is available at:
ec.europa.eu/education/multiling/

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

Source:

Cultural Diversity - Cultural policies and measures - Best practices - The European Commission launches a “Have Your ...