Conference on Linguistic Diversity and the French language in the European Union

The Ministerial Conference on Linguistic Diversity in the European Union, which will be held in Pau on 15 March 2022 under the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, will provide the opportunity for European partners to examine and discuss the issues of multilingualism and plurilingualism in Europe, following the publishing of the Lequesne report. The central issue of the construction of European citizenship will be addressed via these themes.

The effective practice, both written and spoken, of plurilingualism within the European institutions represents a challenge in the creation of a public space that takes into consideration the 24 official languages of the European Union.

How can digital technology then foster plurilingualism in European institutions, in their internal working and in their external communication? What are today’s obstacles to the wider teaching of languages in Europe and the development of ambitious policies to promote linguistic diversity? What should be the broad lines of the training and mobility of European citizens and civil servants in terms of strengthening linguistic diversity in Europe? How can the economic sector play a role in this diversity and what are the positive gains for companies?

These are the questions that will be raised and discussed by the conference’s participants. Representatives of European Union Member States and European institutions, contributors in the field, civil society leaders and those working to further Francophonie will be called upon to share their experiences. Their common goal is to develop and promote linguistic diversity as a way to build European citizenship.

The event will take the form of four successive round tables, after the session of introductory remarks moderated by French, European and international senior officials.

Following the “Innovation, Technology and Plurilingualism” Forum organized by the Ministry of Culture from 7 to 9 February 2022, the first round table will question the benefits of digital innovation. It will focus on the benefits of innovation both in terms of the implementation of multilingualism within the European institutions, and how it is communicated to citizens. It will focus on showing how we can strengthen visibility and facilitate access to plurilingual content online.

“The language of Europe is translation” - Umberto Eco.

The second round table will highlight the benefit for each European of learning a second foreign language. It will show how fluency in several languages fosters employment and mobility, especially through the Erasmus+ programme. It will emphasize the benefit of bilateral cooperation at local and regional levels to promote multilingualism in Europe. This sequence is aligned with the objective of building a European Education Area by 2025, where proficiency in several languages is a condition for studying and working abroad and discovering the cultural diversity of Europe.

“Being able to speak different languages is a condition for studying and working abroad, and fully discover Europe’s cultural diversity” - European Commission Communication of 30 September 2020 on achieving the European Education Area by 2025.

The third round table will discuss the link between language proficiency, training and mobility in the HR strategies of national and European administrations. It will be an opportunity to talk about language-learning throughout one’s career, both for European civil servants and public sector employees who work in the permanent representations of Member States.

The final round table will aim to illustrate that linguistic diversity in Europe contributes to economic growth, the creation of jobs and the employment of European citizens in all businesses. Personal accounts will illustrate the benefits of plurilingualism for Europeans and initiatives in cross-border areas will be highlighted.

Professor Christian Lequesne, author of a report in 2021 on linguistic diversity in the European institutions and within Member States, will oversee the feedback from round tables. The Minister Delegate for Tourism, French Nationals Abroad, Francophonie and for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Mr Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, and the Minister of State for European Affairs will close the conference and hold a joint press conference.

Last updated on: 11 March 2022