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France - resolution on language diversity in the European Union

The French National Assembly

Considering Article 88-4 of the Constitution

Considering the preliminary draft budget of the European Communities for the financial year 2004, General introduction (No E2275 Annex 1),

Considering the draft Council regulation amending the status of European Community agents and the conditions of employment of other agents of the Communities (COM [2002] 213 final/no E2024)

Considering the draft European Parliament and Council decision for a multi-annual programme (2004-2006) for effective use of information and communication technology (ICT) in Europe’s educational and training systems (eLearning Programme) (COM [2002] 751 final/No E2182)

1. States its support for language and cultural diversity inherent in the accession of ten new members.

I – Language reform of the European Institutions

2. Confirms the right of every national representative to express him or herself, whatever the circumstances, in his/her mother tongue and therefore believes that the system of full interpretation should be maintained at the European Council and during EU ministerial meetings.

3. Believes that the language arrangements at CFSC (Eng/Fr) and COREPER (Eng/Fr/Ger) should be formalised, because they are based on established and accepted practice 

4. Opposes any increase in the number of meetings held without interpretation, as it would promote the use of a single language, which is contrary to Europe’s principle of multilingualism 

5. Recommends that any compromise on the language arrangements for meetings of Council working groups, other than COREPER or CSFP, be based on the principles of language pluralism, flexible management and fair division of the financial costs; it believes that any market-based system could only work if these conditions are met. 

6. Calls for a trial and assessment of the asymmetric system, which allows all participants to speak their own language with interpretation into a restricted number of working languages, with a view to generalised use of the system if agreement can be reached. 

7. Suggests harmonisation of the language arrangements in EU agencies and community organisations, based on a restricted number of working languages.  

II – Attacks on the principle of multilingualism within the EU

8. Recalls that publication of tenders and vacancy announcements in English only should be banned because it runs counter to the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of language, in the belief that as a bare minimum these publications should be produced in a restricted number of official languages.

9. Calls for systematic reporting whenever EU institutions breach their language obligations.

10. Proposes that the websites of EU institutions and bodies be subject to a “language charter” banning the placing on line of information in a single language, as is currently the case of the website of the European Central Bank.

III – Policy to promote French within European institutions

11. Maintains that promotion of the French language requires French civil servants to use only French when abroad, as set out in the Prime Minister’s circular of 14 February 2003 on the use of French

12. Believes that the promotion of French in European institutions will require better coordination between the appropriate branches of government working on an inter-departmental basis, and would like reform of the foreign ministry to promote possible synergies.

13. Welcomes the training in French given to officials from member states and accession states, which needs encouragement and financial support. To this end, the establishment in Strasbourg of a centre for preparing the EU competitive examination, now extended to cover professional development for European officials, should be analysed by the steering committee charged with designing a long-term strategy to promote Strasbourg as a European capital city.

14. Calls on the Assemblée nationale’s committee on EU affairs to report annually on changes in language practice in the European institutions.

IV – Learning foreign languages

15. Recommends that compulsory teaching of two foreign languages become the norm in the enlarged European Union, and that the teaching of the new languages of the EU be promoted in European education systems.

V – Changes in the Staff Regulations of European Officials and organisation of competitive examinations

16. Welcomes the compromise achieved on 19 May 2003 stipulating that officials recruited after the entry into force of the new Staff Regulations should, before promotion from entry grade, provide proof of their fluency in two languages in addition to their mother tongue.

17. Calls on the government to ensure that the terms of the compromise be written into the new Staff Regulations of European officials, which should provide for an objective and transparent procedure to assess language ability.

18. Proposes that the organisation of pre-selection tests in three languages for the recruitment of officials form future member states be extended, for a trial period, to all competitive examinations organised by the European Union

Debated at public session, Paris 6 January 2004

The Speaker
Jean-Louis DEBRÉ

Recommended citation format:
AIIC. "France - resolution on language diversity in the European Union". March 19, 2004. Accessed May 31, 2020. <>.

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Comments 6

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Les fonctionnaires des institutions européennes de nationalité française ne sont pas nommés par le Premier Ministre. Ils sont, comme la Commission Européenne, independents. Je vois mal comment le Premier Ministre pourrait par une circulaire les obliger à utiliser exclusivement (!!!) le français. C'est hexagonalement ridicule!

Juan (espagnol francophile)

11. Considère que la promotion de la langue française suppose en premier lieu que les fonctionnaires français à l'étranger utilisent exclusivement leur propre langue, comme l'exige la circulaire du Premier ministre du 14 février 2003 relative à l'emploi de la langue française.

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Roger Léger


Le français est la langue maternelle de... tous les Français.

Les langues régionales ont (à tort ou à raison, c'est un autre débat) perdu leur statut de langue maternelle. Ce sont dorénavant des langues apprises et dont les structures grammaticales ont d'ailleurs été largement modifiées afin de répondre à des impératifs politiques autonomistes, voire séparatistes.

Le breton "unifié" a tout bonnement tué les langues bretonnes régionales traditionnelles. Un jeune s'exprimant en breton unifié (langue qu'il a apprise) ne se fera pas comprendre d'une personne âgée utilisant la langue bretonne originelle. Et vice-versa. Quel comble...

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guilhem forcalquier


Que dit la France de la diversité linguistique au sein de sa république et des droits linguistiques des citoyens français qui ont une langue maternelle autre que le français, tels que les bretons, les alsaciens, les occitans, les corses, les catalans et les basques?

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Philip H. D. SMITH


As the resolution was presented to the French parliament, the original version is French. AIIC provided the English translation for information purposes.

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María J. Blasco Mayor


Multilingualism is great if only those who recommend it realised the tremendous cost it involves, and did something about it. Some European governments say they promote multilingualism but where is the budget and the mechanisms that would make it possible? Have they asked the language experts?

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Michael Greco


How many languages has this resolution been written in?

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