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Languages in the European Union

26 September 2013, 21:37 CET

The languages of the European Union are languages used by people within the Member States of the European Union. They include the twenty-three official languages of the EU along with a range of others. The EU has a number of policies relating to language learning.

The European Union has 24 official and working languages. They are: Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish.

The first Community Regulation determining official languages was passed in 1958. It specified Dutch, French, German and Italian as the first official and working languages of the EU, these being the languages of the Member States at that time.

Since then, as more countries have become part of the EU, the number of official and working languages has increased. However, there are fewer official languages than Member States, as some share common languages. In Belgium, for example, the official languages are Dutch, French and German, whilst in Cyprus the majority of the population speaks Greek, which has official status.

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