Multilingualism as a key element to enhance european business

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Jul 12 20:23:06 UTC 2008

 Multilingualism as a key element to enhance european business

published on Friday, July 11,
& Financial Affairs <>

Commissioner Orban received on July 11th the Report from the  Business Forum
for multilingualism, that gives a clear overview of what needs to be done to
help companies gain access to new markets and new business opportunities in
the globalised world.

Set up in 2007 to explore how *language skills can have an impact on trade
and jobs in the European Union*, the Business Forum for
its report to based on research reports, case studies, interviews
and personal experiences of members of the Forum, chaired by Viscount
Etienne Davignon, Belgian Minister of State and former Vice-President of the
European Commission.

This report is enbodied with the general policy to promote multilingualism,
as a central element for European Union's language policy. In 2004, explicit
responsibility for multilingualism was included in a European Commissioner's
portfolio for the first time.

As Mr. Leonard Orban, Multilingualism Commissioner, highlighted, *"This
Business Forum report makes the case for multilingualism in European
companies, proving how linguistic diversity and investing in language and
intercultural skills can be turned into a real asset for prosperity and a
benefit for all. Its conclusions and recommendations are an excellent
contribution to the new strategic Communication on multilingualism, which I
intend to present in September this year. They are also clearly in tune with
the objectives established in the Lisbon strategy for more growth and jobs."

Vice President G√ľnter Verheugen, Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry,
endorsed the report, saying: "Investing in language skills and managing
diversity will be crucial for the European society to fully benefit from the
globalised world. Diverse language skills allow for communication, for
understanding and for finding new solutions. It is high time, that education
and professional training takes account of these needs and offer everybody a
broad range of skills. More than ever our society needs the active promotion
of intercultural exchange and cross border cooperation."
The main conclusions of this report are focused in the following aspects:

   - Europe is running the *risk of losing competitiveness*, as emerging
   economies mainly in Asia and Latin America are rapidly acquiring solid
   language skills together with other competences necessary for successful
   - Formal and informal learning of a wide range of languages should be
   actively promoted in the EU Member States as the *business sector needs
   an increasingly diversified workforce*. Language skills are crucial, if
   tomorrow's workforce is to consider all of Europe their home base.
   - *Language strategies need to be endorsed at the highest management
   level* in companies across Europe. This can take the form, for instance,
   of investing in language training, of employing native speakers and of
   ensuring good multilingual communication via the Internet.
   - Companies need *support for their efforts to use languages
   strategically*, notably via the networks and structures already in place.
   The role of *national export promotion organisations*, such as trade
   councils, is considered crucial in this respect.
   - A European platform is required for a *structured exchange of
   information and of best practices* involving languages for business.

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