Language Discrimination in the European Union

Gazzetta Amministrativa della Repubblica Italiana, Vol 3, pp. 44-59, 2014

16 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2015

Date Written: September 1, 2014


The most essential means of communication in human societies, that of language, which guarantees access to information and rights which, in turn, guarantees democracy, the participation of the people in policy and decision-making process and the vital corollaries of transparency and accountability, is constantly being undermined in the European Union’s institutional and administrative system. The observed restrictions on the use of languages and on the publication of EU documents of general publication, including the Official Journal of the EU, are interrelated issues (how can you publish a document in a language that you do not use?), with the human factor being their common denominator (i.e. EU staff and contractors). The EU Commission’s self-asserted, and yet illegal, three-language regime targets the human factor through language criteria for employment in the EU and language restrictions on the publication of employment competition notices. These issues have been examined in C-566/10 P (Italy v Commission) and subsequent case-law. With reference to these cases, the legal framework governing the language regime in the EU is analysed to determine the scope of the relevant EU Regulations and Treaty provisions. It is shown that the language issues surrounding employment and the publication of competition notices, which are documents of general application, impact on the entire language regime of the EU. In practice, it is the calculative, tailor-made selection of EU staff, that is the human factor involved, which implements the language discrimination regime that is arbitrarily practised by the EU Commission and other EU organs.

Keywords: EU Commission, Discrimination, Proportionality Principle, Duty to Give Reasons, EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, Transparency, Democracy, Documents of General Application, OJEU, Employment, EU internship, EPSO

JEL Classification: J40, J45, J60, J70, J71, J78, J79, K19, K23, M59, Z00

Suggested Citation

Xenos, Dimitris, Language Discrimination in the European Union (September 1, 2014). Gazzetta Amministrativa della Repubblica Italiana, Vol 3, pp. 44-59, 2014. Available at SSRN:

Dimitris Xenos (Contact Author)

University of Suffolk ( email )

Waterfront Building
19 Neptune Quay
Ipswich, IP4 1QJ
United Kingdom
+44(0)14733-38483 (Phone)

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