Ever Closer Union or Babylonian Discord? The Official-language Problem in the European Union
AbstractExtensive multilingualism is one of the most important and fundamental principles of the European Union. However, a large number of official languages (currently 23) hinders communication and imposes substantial financial and legal costs. We address the merits of multilingualism and formulate an analytical framework to determine the optimal number of official languages in the EU. Using the results of a 2005 Eurobarometer survey of languages in the EU 27, we first derive the sets of languages that minimize aggregate linguistic disenfranchisement of the Union’s citizens for any given number of languages. We then proceed by discussing the political-economy framework and feasibility of a potential linguistic reform in the EU under alternative voting rules. We argue that a six-language regime would be a reasonable intermediate choice: a lower number of official languages results in excessive linguistic disenfranchisement whereas adding further languages increases the costs but brings only modest benefits. We also show that even though a linguistic reform reducing the number of official languages to six is unlikely to gain sufficient support at the present, this may change in the future since young people are more proficient at speaking foreign languages.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6367.
Date of creation: Jun 2007
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ.
Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820
Other versions of this item:
- Jan Fidrmuc & Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber, 2007. "Ever Closer Union or Babylonian Discord? The Official-language Problem in the European Union," CEDI Discussion Paper Series 07-07, Centre for Economic Development and Institutions(CEDI), Brunel University.
- FIDRMUC, Jan & GINSBURGH, Victor & WEBER, Shlomo, 2007. "Ever closer Union or Babylonian discord? The official-language problem in the European Union," CORE Discussion Papers 2007020, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
- D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
- O52 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe
- Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Bruno van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie & Didier François, 2009.
"The Cost Factor in Patent Systems,"
Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade,
Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 329-355, December.
- Francois, Didier & van Pottelsberghe, Bruno, 2006. "The Cost Factor in Patent Systems," CEPR Discussion Papers 5944, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Bruno Van Pottelsberghe & Didier François, 2009. "The cost factor in patent systems," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/13422, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
- Bruno Van Pottelsberghe & Didier François, 2006. "The cost factor in patent systems," Working Papers CEB 06-002.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
- FIDRMUC, Jan & GINSBURGH, Victor & WEBER, Shlomo, .
"Voting on the choice of core languages in the European Union,"
CORE Discussion Papers RP
-2131, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
- Fidrmuc, Jan & Ginsburgh, Victor & Weber, Shlomo, 2009. "Voting on the choice of core languages in the European Union," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 56-62, March.
- Jan Fidrmuc & Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber , 2008. "Voting on the Choice of Core Languages in the European UnionÂ ," Working Papers 005-08, International School of Economics at TSU, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia.
- Jan Fidrmuc & Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber, 2009. "Voting on the choice of core languages in the European Union," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/99264, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.