Linguistic diversity is a democratic and cultural cornerstone of the
Union, recognised in Article 22 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of
the European Union.
The importance of languages was emphasised in the Council Resolution
diversity of 14 February 2002 on acknowledging the part played by
languages in social, economic and political integration, particularly
in an enlarged Europe.
Linguistic diversity is one of the operating principles of the European
institutions. The Treaty on European Union is authentic in each of its
12 language versions (Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German,
Greek, Irish, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish) (Article
53), entitling every citizen to write to any of the institutions in
one of these languages and to have an answer in the same language (Article
The Regulation of 6 October 1958 determining the languages to be used
European Economic Community places on an equal footing the 11 official
and working languages of the institutions, which are all the languages
of the Treaties with the exception of Irish.
The enlargement of 1 May 2004 enriches the European Union with 9 new
languages: Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Polish,
Slovanian, Slovak and Maltese.
The 40 or so indigenous languages existing within the European Union
are a key element of its heritage and culture. The learning of languages
opens doors to understanding of different cultures and is a necessary
skill for Europeans. The Union therefore encourages knowledge, preservation
and dissemination of European languages, as well as languages of third
countries with which it cooperates.
Languages, opening doors to cultures
Preserving, enhancing and disseminating languages