Would a common EU language help?

A "European language" could help to encourage the free movement across the continent. But at what cost?

The Eblana European Democratic Movement. |
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Would a common EU language help?
The EU has 23 official languages - a pan-European language might help overcome the language barriers.

I have been reading in many blogs and on websites how some people are suggesting that Europe should have a common language. And for some of them the Esperanto language is ideal to be the future language of the EU and Europe.

In my opinion, if any language will dominate Europe in the future, it will do so gradually, naturally and because people will choose it to be the lingua franca. And such a language already exists; it is English. I do not see why we need to start teaching our children a manufactured language from scratch.

It will take lots of money to train and educate enough teachers to speak that language perfectly so that they will be able to teach the millions of young Europeans. Also millions of euros would be needed for printing books for every school across the EU.

I think this would be a waste of money, especially now that there is an economic crisis on our continent. I would much prefer to see this money being spent in supporting other projects like the Erasmus - that I find far more important.

Even if we do agree on Esperanto being our common future language we must start doing it now, as soon as possible so it can establish itself within the future generations. I do not think that there is neither the will in the current economic climate nor the capability for something like that for the foreseeable future. Until then, more and more people across Europe will speak English and it will be far more difficult for Esperanto to take over in a decade or more later.

But why would it be a good idea to have a common European language? Well firstly we must make it clear that we are not speaking about a replacement of our national languages, rather about the establishment of a second official pan-European language.

As it is expected I am 100% against the replacement of our national languages by a single one. My native language is Greek, a language that has survived for thousands of years and I do not see why the Greek should abandon it now. The same sentiments have most people of Europe I think.

However, I am all for a second official language on our continent. Either that is English (that it would make sense, since most of us communicate in English as a lingua franca) or any other existing European language like French or German (most likely) if the British decide to withdraw from the EU.

A second official language that will exist in all member states will allow even more free movement in people, goods and services. For example, I would love to move to Finland, but since I do not speak Finnish I can not do so without further difficulties. There would be very few companies and job opportunities there that would employ me without competence of the native language.

If there was a second official language, people could move to any European country more easily without having to learn the national language beforehand. That would be of course a temporary situation to help people in their new beginnings. But they would be obliged to learn the native language after they moved and decided to stay for good in that country.

In the beginning they could find employment in all available jobs apart from state and government posts, the army, police, public sector position and as high ranked executives. Once they learned the native language, they could be employed everywhere and have equal employment rights.

Thus they will be motivated to learn the native language, if they want to have a better future and become fully integrated in their adopted country. I value the diversity of the European languages and I wish it to remain so. But having so many languages across Europe, though it enriches our collective heritage, makes it more difficult for people to move around. 

By living and working in a number or other countries, European people not only will be learning more languages and coming in contact with other European people and cultures. They will also gather more working experience like new skills, new way of thinking and doing business. In that way we will create a multilingual, diverse and highly skilled European workforce but also a more "European" populace.

Both Europeans but also immigrants in Europe would be able to find employment across Europe, and companies would find it easier to establish themselves in another country and attract workers to employ. Immigrant workers wouldn't be bound to a few countries, jobs or cities where they can find employment by using English only.

If the language borders broke, the borders within Europe would truly collapse.

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This article was originally published by The Eblana European Democratic Movement. .
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