Working languages of the European Parliament

Many languages are used in the European Union.

Photo: European Parliament.

Democracy is very important to the European Union and Parliament. The Parliament represents all the citizens of Europe. To make democracy work, it is important that people can use their own language when dealing with the EU. The many languages are one of the central features of the European Parliament.

The European Union has 23 official languages:

Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenia, Slovene, Spanish and Swedish.

Because some languages are spoken in several countries, there are fewer official languages than member states.

All the regulations and laws given by the Parliament are published in the EU’s all official languages. All the MEPs may use the official language they know best when speaking in session. The speech is then interpreted into the other official languages. There are a large number of translators and interpreters working for the European Union. The translation department is the biggest department in the European Parliament. Almost one third of the Parliament’s employees work in language-related duties.

The sessions of the European Parliament
are interpreted into the official languages.

Photo: European Parliament.

To save time and money, all the preparatory documents are usually not translated into all the languages. The European Commission uses English, French as German as its working languages. In the European Parliament, documents are translated into other languages according to the needs of the MEPs.

The EU citizens can contact the EU institutions using any of the official languages and receive a reply in the same language.