Answer given by Mr Figel' on behalf of the Commission
The language policy of the Commission is aimed at facilitating communication between the citizens of the Union, allowing them to travel, study and work in other Member States, to discover the cultures of their neighbours, and to exchange ideas and overcome the fear of the unknown which has historically led to conflict across the continent.
The decision of choice of languages to be learnt is thus better left to the citizens themselves, to the families of pupils at school and to local, regional and national authorities, rather than taken at European level. The task of the Commission is to inform these decision‑takers, allowing them to make the best possible choices in the interests of the individual, of their local community and of the European Union at large.
Professor Grin’s report on the teaching of foreign languages as a public policy presents an interesting analysis of multilingualism, mainly from the economic point of view, while it deliberately avoids any consideration of the related cultural and social issues (page 13).
The Commission is fully aware of Professor Grin’s studies. Given the extreme complexity of language issues, he decided to examine three scenarios of language policy in this recent work: ‘English only,’ ‘Multilingualism’ and ‘Esperanto.’ These however are just a small subset of the many possible language policies, and it would be inappropriate to base European language policy and the debate within and between European institutions on this specific contribution.