Ever Closer Union or Babylonian Discord? The Official-language Problem in the European Union
Extensive 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.
|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
|Order Information:|| Email: |
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.:
- 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, 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.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6367. 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: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.