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Multilingualism in the European Union

Multilingualism — working definitions

  • an individual's ability to communicate in several different languages
  • the co-existence of different language communities in one geographical/political area
  • an organisation's policy choice to operate in more than one language

Multilingualism is a fact of life in the European Union and one of the founding principles of the EU institutions. At DG Translation, our job is to turn that principle into reality.

Mother tongue +2

Promoting language learning is central to the EU’s language policy. The EU encourages everyone to learn and speak more languages, in the interests of mutual understanding and communication. Our goal is an EU in which every citizen knows at least two foreign languages in addition to their mother tongue.

The Commission promotes the learning of a wide variety of languages — not just the official languages of the EU, but also the 60 or so regional and minority languages spoken in the EU and the numerous languages spoken by the large migrant communities living in Europe.

EU language policy

Check the Languages website to learn more about EU language policy.