Ever closer Union or Babylonian discord? The official-language problem in the European Union
The policy of official multilingualism is one of the most important and fundamental principles of the Union. However, a large number of official languages imposes substantial financial, communication and legal costs. We address the merits of extensive multilingualism and formulate an analytical framework to determine the optimal number of official languages in the EU. First, we derive the sequence of optimal sets of languages which identifies 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 various voting rules, including the Nice Treaty, the proposed European Constitution and the Penrose law. 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 tend to be more proficient at speaking foreign languages.
|Date of creation:||01 Mar 2007|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Voie du Roman Pays 34, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium)|
Fax: +32 10474304
Web page: http://www.uclouvain.be/core
More information through EDIRC
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 & Didier François, 2009.
"The cost factor in patent systems,"
ULB Institutional Repository
2013/13422, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
- Francois, Didier & van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, Bruno, 2006. "The Cost Factor in Patent Systems," CEPR Discussion Papers 5944, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Bruno Van Pottelsberghe & Didier François, 2006. "The cost factor in patent systems," Working Papers CEB 06-002.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:2007020. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Alain GILLIS)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.