Unity in diversity. The European Union's multilingualism

Author:Laura-Cristiana Sp?taru-Negur?
Position:Assistant Lecturer, PhD., Law Faculty, 'Nicolae Titulescu' University of Bucharest, Romania, (e-mail: negura_laura@yahoo.com).
Pages:139-148
LESIJ NO. XXIII, VOL. 2/2016
UNITY IN DIVERSITY. THE EUROPEAN UNION’S
MULTILINGUALISM
Laura-Cristiana SPTARU-NEGUR
Abstract
It is undeniable that the European Union represents the most a mbitious legal and linguistic
project, integra ting 28 Member States and 24 official languages.
What we undertook with this study was to explore the importance of multilingualism in the
European Union a nd the problems that unity in diversity involves. This study tried to touch upon both
theoretical aspects (i.e., what the multilingualism of EU law implies) a nd practica l issues (i.e., the
interaction between lega l langua ges at national and at EU level, pr oblems emerging from
multilingualism, illustrated by the relevant case la w of the European Court of Justice).
In many ECJ cases, it was underlined that multilingualism is essential to the EU legal order. The
meaning of EU law cannot be derived from one version of the official languages and the ECJ r egularly
heads for a uniform interpr etation of the contradictory versions.
The present study is part of a more complex research on this theme and it is meant to app roach
certain importa nt points of my PhD thesis. A first part of this resea rch on multilingualism has alrea dy
been published.
Keywords: European Union, diversity, unity, multilingualism, languages.
1. Introduction
1.1. About law and language
Language is the core of national or
minority group identity.
The linguistic diversity is a specific
value of the EU which should be protected.
Contrary to the provisions of Treaty
establishing the European Coal and Steel
Community (authentic in French only) the
European Union (and the European
Community first) has always been based on
the principle that at least one official
Assistant Lecturer, PhD.,ă Lawă Faculty,ă “Nicolaeă Titulescu”ă Universityă ofă Bucharest,ă Romania,ă (e-mail:
negura_laura@yahoo.com).
1
There are multilingual legislative systems in the EU: Belgium (French, Dutch and German) and Malta (Maltese
and English). Other multilingual legislative systems in the world: Canada and Switzerland.
2
In 1973, English, Irish and Danish, in 1981 Greek, in 1986 Spanish and Portuguese, in 1995 Finnish and
Swedish, in 2004 Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Maltese, Polish, Slovenian and Slovak, in 2007
Romanian and Bulgarian, in 2013 Croatian became official languages in the EU.
language of each Me mber State
1
should
become an official language of the Union.
As for the provision of Article 314 of
the Treaty establishing the European
Community, the treaty was drawn up in a
single original in four texts equally authentic
(i.e., Dutch, French, German and Italian
languages). This Article has been amended
by the Accession Treaties upon each entry
into the Community/U nion of new Member
States.
2
As from the 1st of July 2013, the
European Union has 28 Member States, the
last Member State entering the Europea n
family being Croatia. Almost every Member

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