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Official languages of the EU

What is it?

The European Union has 24 official and working languages. They are:

Bulgarian            

French

Maltese            

Croatian

German            

Polish

Czech

Greek

Portuguese

Danish

Hungarian

Romanian

Dutch

Irish

Slovak

English

Italian

Slovene

Estonian

Latvian

Spanish

Finnish

Lithuanian

Swedish

The first official language policy of what was then the European Community identified Dutch, French, German, and Italian as the official working languages of the EU.

Since then, as more countries have become part of the EU, the number of official and working languages has increased. However, there are fewer official languages than Member States, as some share common languages.

Why is it needed?

The European Commission maintains the policy that all EU citizens have the right to access all EU documents in the official language of the Commission, and should be able to write to the Commission and receive a response in their own language.

What is the Commission doing?

With a permanent staff of 1,750 linguists and 600 support staff, the Commission has one of the largest translation services in the world, bolstered by a further 600 full-time and 3,000 freelance interpreters.

In order to reduce the cost to the European taxpayer, the European Commission is increasingly endeavouring to operate in the three core languages of the European Union; English, French, and German, while developing responsive language policies to serve the remaining 21 official language groups.