The Application of Multilingualism in the European Union Context

38 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2006

Date Written: March 2006


On 1 May 2004, 10 more countries acceded to the European Union (EU), bringing the total number of Member States to 25, increasing the EU's population to over 450 million and, last but not least, nearly doubling the number of the official languages of the EU. The recent enlargement, a cornerstone in the continuing process of European integration, poses unprecedented challenges, also because of its linguistic implications for the EU and for the language regime applicable to the Community Institutions. In the case of the ECB, this challenge is all the more evident due to the very short deadlines within which some of its operational decisions need to be taken and implemented and the practical implications that their adoption in all the official languages of the EU would entail. This paper is divided in two Parts. Part I provides an overview of the rationale and of the legal basis underlying the EU's current language policy, outlining the language regime applicable to the Community Institutions and bodies and discusses exceptions and limitations to multilingualism associated with the particular situation of Member States with more than one official language or stemming from some recent case-law on the Institutions' language regime. Part II examines the issue of the name of the single currency and some of the reasons underlying the ECB's stance on proposed national variations in its spelling.

Suggested Citation

Athanassiou, Phoebus, The Application of Multilingualism in the European Union Context (March 2006). ECB Legal Working Paper No. 2, Available at SSRN: or

Phoebus Athanassiou (Contact Author)

European Central Bank ( email )

Sonnemannstrasse 20
Frankfurt am Main, 60314

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