What can governments do to preserve languages?
What languages are used in Parliament?
The European Union has 24 official languages. This enables all citizens to understand the EU legislation that affects them. Anyone can contact the EU institutions, for example by petitioning or requesting information in one of the official languages, and the debates in Parliament can be followed via live web streaming.
Members of the European Parliament will also have the opportunity to express themselves orally or in writing in their own language or one of the other 24 official EU languages, and to hear or read the contributions of others in the official language of their choice. This is of great importance for maintaining the basic democratic right that every citizen of the EU is a member of the European Parliament even if he or she does not speak a foreign language. Members of the European Parliament are not elected on the basis of their knowledge of foreign languages, but to represent the interests of their constituents. In order to guarantee equal working conditions for all members of parliament, each and every one of them must have access to all information in their own language. MEPs' speeches in one of the official languages are simultaneously interpreted into the other official languages and official documents are translated into all 24 official languages. In order for EU legislation to be directly applied in the member states or to be implemented in national law, it must first be translated into the official languages of the member states. Citizens can request and receive information in any of the official languages.
When Croatia joined on July 1, 2013, the number of official languages rose to 24: Bulgarian, Danish, German, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, Greek, Irish, Italian, Croatian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese , Romanian, Swedish, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Czech and Hungarian.
The departure of the United Kingdom did not automatically lead to the abolition of English as an official language. Indeed, such a move would have to be decided unanimously by the governments of all Member States, and since English is one of the official languages in Ireland and Malta, this is very unlikely.
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