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Voting on the Choice of Core Languages in the European UnionÂ


  • Jan Fidrmuc

    () (Brunel University and CEPR)

  • Victor Ginsburgh

    () (ECORE (CORE and ECARES))

  • Shlomo Weber

    () (Southern Methodist University, Dallas, USA, CORE, Catholic University of Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, and CEPR)


Extensive multilingualism is one of the most important and fundamental principles of the European Union (EU). However, a large number of languages (currently 23) hinders communication and imposes substantial financial and legal costs. On the other hand, the reduction of the number of languages would disenfranchise some or many EU citizens. We use the results of a survey on languages and argue that even though a linguistic reform reducing the number of languages is unlikely to gain sufficient political support today, this may change in the future since young people are more proficient at speaking foreign languages.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:tbs:wpaper:08-005

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fidrmuc, Jan & Ginsburgh, Victor & Weber, Shlomo, 2007. "Ever Closer Union or Babylonian Discord? The Official-language Problem in the European Union," CEPR Discussion Papers 6367, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber, 2005. "Language Disenfranchisement in the European Union," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(2), pages 273-286, June.
    3. Victor Ginsburgh & Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín & Shlomo Weber, 2005. "Disenfranchisement In Linguistically Diverse Societies: The Case Of The European Union," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(4), pages 946-965, June.
    4. Laruelle, Annick & Widgren, Mika, 1998. "Is the Allocation of Voting Power among EU States Fair?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 94(3-4), pages 317-339, March.
    5. Fidrmuc, Jan & Ginsburgh, Victor, 2007. "Languages in the European Union: The quest for equality and its cost," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(6), pages 1351-1369, August.
    6. Baldwin, Richard & Berglöf, Erik & Giavazzi, Francesco & Widgrén, Mika, 2000. "EU Reforms for Tomorrow’s Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 2623, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Baldwin, Richard & Widgrén, Mika, 2004. "Winners and Losers Under Various Dual Majority Rules for the EU Council of Ministers," CEPR Discussion Papers 4450, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


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    Cited by:

    1. Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber, 2012. "Culture Languages and Economics," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2012-009, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    2. Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber, 2016. "Linguistic Distances and Ethno-Linguistic Fractionalisation and Disenfranchisement Indices," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2016-25, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    3. Zaporozhets, Vera, 2015. "Power Distribution in French River Basin Committees," TSE Working Papers 15-558, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    4. Jan Fidrmuc, 2012. "The Economics of Multilingualism in the EU," Chapters,in: Research Handbook on the Economics of European Union Law, chapter 15 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber, 2013. "Linguistic diversity, standardization and disenfranchisement. Measurement and consequences," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/152436, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    6. Kaniovski, Serguei & Mueller, Dennis C., 2011. "How representative is the European Union Parliament?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 61-74, March.
    7. Victor Ginsburgh & Juan Prieto-Rodriguez, 2013. "Is there a Gender Bias in the Use of Foreign Languages in Europe?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(4), pages 552-566, November.
    8. Muravyev, Alexander & Talavera, Oleksandr, 2016. "Can state language policies distort students’ demand for education?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 383-399.
    9. Aguiar-Conraria, Luís & Magalhães, Pedro C., 2010. "How quorum rules distort referendum outcomes: Evidence from a pivotal voter model," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 541-557, December.
    10. Hillman, Arye L., 2010. "Expressive behavior in economics and politics," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 403-418, December.
    11. Muravyev, Alexander & Talavera, Oleksandr, 2010. "Can State Language Policies Distort Students' Demand for Higher Education?," IZA Discussion Papers 5411, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    Languages; Disenfranchisement; European Union; Linguistic standardization;

    JEL classification:

    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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