Europe is a continent of many languages. The European Union has 23 official languages, and more will be added as new countries join.
Europe also has more than 60 indigenous regional and minority languages – some of which have official status locally. Examples include Sami in the North, Sorbian towards the east, Sardinian in the South and Basque in the West.
In addition, immigrant communities continue to bring new languages, and in cities such as London, Paris, Brussels and Berlin, hundreds of languages are spoken.
EU language policies aim to protect linguistic diversity and promote knowledge of languages – for reasons of cultural identity and social integration, but also because multilingual citizens are better placed to take advantage of the educational, professional and economic opportunities created by an integrated Europe.
The goal is a Europe where everyone can speak at least two other languages in addition to their own mother tongue.
These all mark key stages in the formulation of current multilingualism policy – most recent first. For a full list of policy documents please consult our Key documents database.
Education ministers call for further Commission action to promote language learning, e.g. for adults as part of vocational training, and to help migrants learning the language of the host country.
EU ministers set out what the EU should be doing to promote language learning and protect linguistic diversity.
The Commission's assessment of what needs to be done to turn linguistic diversity into an asset for solidarity and prosperity
Inventory of EU actions in the field of multilingualism [208 KB] (2008)
A full report on action to promote languages in all fields
See the responses to the public consultation and the discussion that followed
The first strategy of its kind – now superseded by the 2008 strategy