of the symposium, held on May 6, 2003, European Parliament,
"What language policies for a multilingual European Union?"
"Shall we write the citizens' communication rights and duties into a European
Under the chairmanship of the MEP, Michael Gahler,
the participants adopted at the end of the symposium the following principles:
As to specific results, the participants wish
Everybody is free in the choice of the language for communication with
others, but, in the communication with public services and authorities,
everyone has to conform to the legal and linguistic provisions that are
applied at the place concerned. (territorial principle).
In the private sphere, everybody has the right to communicate in the language
of his/her choice, but, those standing for election to public office
should master communication in the local language(s) and recognise the
legal and linguistic provisions of the place concerned. (principle of
In the field of private activities, everyone can organise his/her communication
in the language of his/her preference, but, in dealing with public
authorities, everyone's language use (communication) has to be in conformity
with the legal and linguistic provisions in force at the place concerned
(principle of local self-government).
In the internal organisation of one's own business, everyone is free to
determine the language of communication, but, in applying for a
job, everyone has to meet the professional requirements including the necessary
linguistic qualification for communication required for the activity concerned
by the employing firm, association or institution (principle of professional
Communication within public services and administration in Member States
depends on the legal and constitutional framework of the country concerned.
(principle of subsidiarity).
Communication of the Institutions of the European Union should be non-discriminatory,
rational and efficient; therefore, as general guideline it can be said
that external communication towards the citizen and within the framework
of a political mandate has to cover all official languages of the Union,
while internal communication needs a common means of communication; as
long as such a working language consists of a national language, discrimination
in communication persists. (distinction between external 'citizen' communication
and internal 'professional' communication)
As long as discrimination in the internal communication of the institutions
of the Union does exist, the competent bodies at the Union level and the
education authorities in the Member States should undertake research in
the field of a non-discriminatory system such as a universal language model
(planned language), its conditions, capacities and limits, to support feasibility
studies and to facilitate language experiments with view to ultimately
resolving the remaining discrimination in internal and inter-ethnic communication.
(principle of equality and non-discrimination)
Finally, it is in the responsibility of the competent authorities in the
Member States and of the competent bodies at the European level to co-ordinate
best practices in this field, to organise the necessary language instruction
in schools, to offer and guarantee diversity in language learning, and,
finally, to safeguard the cultural and linguistic identities within this
multilingual Union. (principle of diversity in unity)
A more detailed summary of the symposium will be available soon on the
internet: www.europe-citizen.net !
to inform the EU citizen about his/her rights and duties in communication
in this multilingual Union,
to remind the members of the Convention about major principles which should
be enshrined in a European Constitution as to communication rights and
duties in a multilingual community like the European Union, and,
invite all politicians and competent authorities in the Member States
and at the European level
to investigate the concept of a 'neutral' multilingualism,
to initiate feasibility studies in the field of a common non-discriminatory
to support language experiments, notably in schools, in order to learn
the first foreign target language better and more quickly, and,
to create an observatory for monitoring the evolution in language use (communication)
in the Union and the protection and safeguarding of cultural and linguistic
identities in the Member States.