European Parliament welcomes strategy for multilingualism

Francis M. Hult fmhult at
Thu Nov 16 12:30:07 UTC 2006

European Parliament Press Service

Parliament welcomes strategy for multilingualism

According to a recent Eurobarometer survey, only half of the EU citizens say 
they can hold a conversation in a second language apart from their mother 
tongue. Therefore, Parliament welcomed the Commission's proposals for a new 
Framework Strategy to foster the knowledge of languages and to take cultural 
and socio-economic advantage of it. 

In adopting a own-initiative report by Bernat Joan i Mari (Greens/EFA, ES) by 
537 votes in favour to 50 against and  59 abstentions,  MEPs said that it was 
essential to improve the quality, effectiveness and accessibility of the 
education and training systems in the EU by promoting foreign language 
At present, there was a lack of detailed and reliable data and appropriate 
indicators. They, therefore, welcomed the proposal for a European Indicator of 
Language Competence which should include all official EU languages and could 
be extended beyond the five widely-spoken languages, in order to gain a true 
picture of language competence. But it was also believed that proposals for 
multilingualism should not be limited to the main official Member State 
The rapporteur and many other MEPs took the view that the rights of the 46 
millions EU citizens who speak lesser used languages like Gaelic, Welsh, 
Frisian, Catalan or Basque should be improved. Member State language plans 
should include these languages and the possibility for interested adults to 
learn these languages should be examined. 
Parliament took the view that the widest opportunities should be provided for 
migrants to learn the language(s) of their host countries. Particular 
attention should also be given to promote language learning for people in 
disadvantaged and difficult circumstances and for people with disabilities. 
Language acquisition should be an essential element in the lifelong learning 
Furthermore, there was large support for the proposals to develop language-
related professions and industries. All European languages will need new 
technologies such as speech processing, voice recognition as well as work on 
terminology, developing language teaching, certification ands testing. MEPs 
feared that otherwise lesser-used languages will left behind with their 
linguistic social space taken over by the more widely spoken languages.
The Commission's commitment to give citizens access to EU legislation, 
procedures and information in their languages was also fully supported. This 
would be an important step in closing the gap between the EU and many of his 
citizens. This communication in the national languages should be improved, 
regardless of whether the language in question has official status at Member 
State or EU level. 
Finally, the European institutions and bodies were called on to cooperate 
closely with the Council of Europe in the protection of linguistic diversity 
and language learning, and to build on its experience in the area of language 
policy (such as the Charter for Regional and Minority Languages). The European 
Ombudsman was called on to pay particular attention to guaranteeing respect 
for the linguistic rights of European citizens, and to provide more ways of 
resolving EU language conflict situations.

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