Language policy

Users of the EU institution's websites are sometimes surprised if they can't find a particular web page in a given language.

Why isn't a particular webpage available in your language?

Users of the EU institution's websites are sometimes surprised if they can't find a particular web page in a given language.

This may be simply because we've not yet had time to translate everything – especially where the languages of the countries that joined in 2004, 2007 and 2013 are concerned.

But some sites are only available in 2 or 3 languages - or even just one (usually English).

The range of languages used depends on the following constraints:

  • Translation – we only have access to limited numbers of translators and a restricted budget for translation (funded by taxpayers).
  • Importance – laws and documents of major public interest must be publicly available, so they appear in all EU official languages.
    Other documents appear only in the languages needed (e.g. for communication with national authorities, organisations or individuals).
  • Cost-effectiveness – to save taxpayers' money, very specialised webpages with a restricted number of users are not published in all languages. The priority is to provide targeted information rapidly and efficiently - even though some users will have to read it in a foreign language.
  • Urgency – some items are for immediate consumption. We publish the text first in one language or a couple of languages only (taking the target audience into account) and add other languages later, in one or more steps.
  • Technical constraints – running a site in over 20 languages involves more people and money.

Bearing all this in mind, the EU institutions will increasingly be taking the following approach:

  • The first and second levels of each site will contain straightforward information with a long timespan for the general public, in all official languages.
  • Pages containing short-lived or very specialised information will generally appear in a few languages - or even just one - depending on the readership.

EU official languages

Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish. 

Information types & language policy

  • Legislation & key political documents
    Published in all EU official languages.
  • Official documents
    Available in at least those languages that had official EU status on the date of publication. Documents that are not legally binding are usually published in English, French and German.
  • General information
    Published in all EU official languages.
  • Urgent or short-lived information
    Appears in a single language initially, given the specific target audience. Other languages may be added later, depending on user needs.
  • Specialised information (technical info, campaigns, calls for tender) & news / events
    Available in a restricted number of languages or even just one – the choice depends on the target audience.