IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/wdi/papers/2007-887.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Ever Closer Union or Babylonian Discord?

Author

Listed:
  • Jan Fidrmuc

    ()

  • Victor Ginsburgh
  • Schlomo Weber

Abstract

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 limited 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Jan Fidrmuc & Victor Ginsburgh & Schlomo Weber, 2007. "Ever Closer Union or Babylonian Discord?," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp887, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  • Handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:2007-887
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/64410/1/wp887.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:2007-887. 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: (WDI). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/wdumius.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.