Time for linguistic justice – European Day of Languages

The European Day of Languages is celebrated every year on 26th of September. This is a chance to promote language learning and to recognise the linguistic diversity of the EU, as well as fostering intercultural understanding and increasing multilingualism. 

In the European Culture and Education Committee earlier this week, the topic of the European Day of Languages was discussed with Vice-President of the Commission, Margaritis Schinas.

Diana Riba MEP from our member party Esquerra Republican de Catalunya told the European Parliament Culture committee:

“I cannot speak Catalan in chamber, despite being a language spoken by over 7 million people.  EU support for multilingualism can not just be focussed on promotion of the official languages. All languages – regional, minority or threatened – are part of our cultural heritage and it is our duty to ensure that their knowledge and official use is employed. This is an issue of linguistic justice.”

With the coronavirus crisis, it is a topic of immediate concern across Europe as a whole as public health information has not always been readily available to citizens in their own languages. A FUEN report suggests that a huge 44.2% of people from minority linguistic communities did not have COVID19-related information available to them in their mother tongues. This is not just a matter of linguistic rights, but also a concern for public health. 

If the EU is to thrive and flourish in future a more democratic and representative Europe of all Peoples must be built from the bottom up. Ensuring linguistic justice, and allowing more languages to be spoken in the European institutions is a change that could engage, inspire and enfranchise millions of Europeans. It is a chance to engage people in their own mother tongues and allow them the opportunity for expression. The true diversity of Europe should be celebrated, and not concealed.

President of the Commission Ursula Von der Leyen often refers to preserving Europe’s Diversity. Europe’s most visible diversity lies in its languages and cultures. We urge her to turn words into actions said EFA President, Lorena López de Lacalle.