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The 14th Principle: The Official Language of the Union Will Be English

“The official language of the Union will be English, which is to be exclusively used for government affairs and will be the sole language of command in the Union army. The other languages of the Union should be maintained for national and regional administrative and educational purposes, and for daily use in their respective habitats.”

By: Project for Democratic Union

At the moment, the EU has 24 official languages and 3 working languages – English, French and German. EU citizens have the right to access all EU documents and to correspond with the Commission in these official languages and MEP’s have the right to use any official language when speaking in the European Parliament. The translation service of the EU facilitates these rights. The current EU language policy focuses on linguistic diversity and the promotion of learning languages. Both in Article 22 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and in Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union is stated that the EU will respect its language diversity. Furthermore, the EU policy – laid down in the Barcelona conclusions in 2002– aims for education in 2 languages other than their mother tongue. The EU language policy does not have to change, when using a single common EU language.

The translation of all EU documents in 24 official languages and the 3 EU working languages is very inefficient. It has high financial costs as well as that the documents are not available immediately to the public in the different languages. The use of a single common language will enhance the cooperation between the Member States and increase transparency. A single common official language will also improve the legal certainty within the Union. The translation of legal documents in all the official EU languages currently leads to ambiguity and legal uncertainty due to the use of different wordings in different languages which makes the interpretation of legal documents even more difficult.

The English language is de facto already highly used at EU level. Many documents and speeches are only available in the English language. Not only at EU administrative level, but throughout all of Europe the English language already is well integrated. 96,7% of the pupils in 2012 (according to Eurostat) learned the English language as a foreign language at lower secondary level in the EU.

Besides that a single common language will increase efficiency and legal certainty, it also has other advantages. A single common language enhances the communication between government institutions and citizens, but also among the citizens themselves. The use of English as lingua franca will stimulate the exchange of information, knowledge and ideas and will further an intercultural dialogue.

The European goal “unity in diversity” will be strengthened by using English as a single common language, while maintaining the other languages for national and regional purposes. We explicitly acknowledge the cultural importance of the other languages in Europe on national and regional level.


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