Must be multilingual?

16th of March 2011

Multilingualism is crucial for SMEs to be able to thrive in Europe - according to participants in a debate hosted by the European Commission and organised by a French language association.

The EU institutions' translation and interpreting services account for 1.1 billion euros or one per cent of the EU budget per year, the equivalent of 2.50 euros per citizen per year.

During the meeting Christian Tremblay, president and founder of the European Observatory of Plurilingualism, cited a study which made a direct link between a country's export performance and multilingualism. Today, multilingualism is said to heighten the performance of companies, contribute to social cohesion when working in a host country and bring commercial advantages.

Trade unionist Jean-Loup Cuisiniez underlined the right of every employee to work in his or her own language and not be discriminated against on grounds of language.

Participants agreed on the importance of having a lingua franca to make exchanges between employees more efficient. However they disagreed slightly on whether to use English, other world languages in addition to it, or rather the mother tongue of every country.


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