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Have your say on the use of languages in the EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies

The European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, has launched a public consultation on the use of languages in the EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies. The purpose is to find out how the EU can best communicate with the public in a way that promotes linguistic diversity while taking into account administrative and budgetary constraints.

In recent years, the Ombudsman has inquired into the language regimes applied by some individual EU institutions. One of the conclusions reached was that EU institutions may legitimately restrict the use of languages in internal communications and documents. Another conclusion was that language restrictions may legitimately be applied in administrative procedures with outside stakeholders, such as in public tenders and calls for proposals, where the EU interacts with a limited group of stakeholders. However, the Ombudsman notes that there is significant inconsistency across the institutions: at present, language restrictions and their rules, where they exist, vary from one EU institution to another. In the absence of clear rules and proper justification for applying restricted language regimes, it is not surprising that the public may be confused. Two specific areas of concern relate to the use of languages on the institutions’ websites and public consultations on new policies or potential legislative proposals.

As a consequence, the European Ombudsman has launched a public consultation on its website in order to promote a discussion on how the EU can best communicate with the public in a way that promotes linguistic diversity while taking into account administrative and budgetary constraints.

The public consultation is open until 30 September 2018 and consists of 10 questions relating to rules and practices on language restrictions, EU websites, public consultation and other topics. Contributions may be submitted in any of the 24 official languages of the EU.