Language policy in the European Union
This article analyses some of the potential language policy scenarios in a democratic, integrated European Union. It examines how a functional multilingual, democratic, ecological language policy in the European Parliament may ensure equal participation in, and benefit from, democratic processes for both majority and minority language communities. How multilingualism is managed and language policy is formed will be crucial in creating the identity of a future European Union, which the author discusses through a reinterpretation of what the EU might stand for; summarised in the notions of an English Union, an Elite Union, an Equal Union or an Esperanto Union. Language policy issues are especially important with regard to education, as multilingual education could be viewed as a democratic tool safeguarding active citizen participation in an intergovernmental forum such as the EU. Based on a three-language model it is possible to sustain a secure ethnic identity or identities via teaching through the mother tongue(s), as well as by acquiring at least one lingua franca and additional languages through carefully planned and well-organised multilingual education. The article concludes, in the long term, that the optimal language policy alternative would be one employing a planned language (such as Esperanto) as lingua franca, as a relay language and as an internal working language for the EU institutions.
Keywords: language ecology, language policy, Esperanto, European Union, minority–majority relationships, mother-tongue privilege, multilingual education, lingua franca
Published online: 20 February 2006
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