The web portal, with access in all 20 official EU languages, brings together relevant information on EU programmes and actions related to promoting language learning and multilingualism in a user-friendly format. "This is a thematic portal which assembles all the information the Commission has on languages", said one Commission official, adding that six key themes help visitors navigate their way through the site. "It is a thin-layer website, a kind of signpost through which you can access all the other websites at all the (EU) institutions", he added, suggesting the aim was "not to spend too much time on this particular site".
Meanwhile, the Commission in its Communication aims to "reiterate its commitment to multilingualism in education, training and beyond". It seeks to set out a new framework strategy for multilingualism with proposals for specific actions in three areas: society, the economy and the Commission's own relations with the EU's citizens. The Commission will also publish a study next year on the impact on the European economy of shortages of language skills.
In addition, it has pledged to make its many websites more multilingual and set up an internal network to monitor quality control in the process. The EU executive has offered to translate more Commission websites, such as Europa, into different languages and ensure coherence in its multilingualism policy throughout the institution. New arrangements are moreover expected to give the Commission's translation offices in member states more of a say in tailoring messages from Brussels to their respective national audiences.
The Commission also announced that it intends to hold a ministerial conference on multilingualism in the near future to allow member states "to share the progress made and plan future work". Part and parcel of this will be work by the new high-level group on multilingualism, comprised of independent experts, to help the Commission analyse progress made by member states and come up with new ideas.
The EU spends some euro 30 million every year on promoting linguistic diversity and language learning through programmes including Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci, and the study of languages is the third most popular field of study for Erasmus students. Some 50% of Europeans claim they can converse in a...