european-identity

61% of Europeans say they see themselves as a “Citizen of the European Union”. However, before pro-Europeans get too excited, it’s important to point out that fully half of those polled also say they feel that EU Member States DON’T share close values, versus only 42% who believe there are common European values.

Could part of the problem be that we all speak so many different languages? There are, after all, 24 official languages in the EU, as well as a whole host of indigenous, regional, and minority languages. Does Europe’s linguistic diversity form a barrier to creating a European demos?

To give you an idea about multilingualism and European identity, we’ve put together some facts and figures in an infographic below (click for a larger image).

EU-Identity-and-multilingualism-2

We had a comment sent in by Guillem, arguing that “One of the big functions of language is [as an] identity-marker… People speak the language of the group they feel [they belong to].”

So, can a common European identity exist without a common language? To get a reaction, we spoke to Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Professor of International Relations and director of the Center for International Studies at the University of Oxford, and asked her what she thought:

kalypso-nicolaidisOn the one hand, we have the old intellectual life of Europe, and the Judao-Christian set of values, and the meta-language of ideas that creates this European identity. The fact that we have idioms and ways of speaking that may be different is less important because we have all these sub-strata in common.

But then, another answer would be: It really does matter if you’re speaking about Dante in Italian, or Goethe in German, or Descartes in French, or Milton in English. What they said sounds different in different languages, and what we say about them sounds different in different languages…

And yet we do have a lingua franca in Europe. Yes, we have these different languages, but increasingly everybody speaks in English… So, we could argue that there is enough of a lingua franca for Europeans to communicate. Moreover, there is technology; Google Translate is going to be increasingly effective, and soon we will have increasingly reliable just-in-time oral translation widely available.

So, I’m more optimistic than Guillem’s comment might imply. But, at the same time, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that our native languages are more than mere vehicles for communication. They are entire cultures. And that remains, and will remain, an obstacle to us all being the same. But we have to ask ourselves: do we want to all be the same? Isn’t that the beauty of Europe?

So, to conclude, we need to speak in as many language as possible, learn foreign languages at school, and not be obsessed with sameness. We are different peoples who are meant to live together. And living together doesn’t mean being identical. And that’s the challenge of Europe.

Can a European identity exist without a common language? Does Europe’s linguistic diversity form a barrier to creating a European demos? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – European Parliament
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  1. Dolly Nedeva

    What about some arab language to be the official one of the Eu?lots of people – “europeans” could speak it easily.

    • ᚠᛖᚾᚱᛁᛋ : ᚹᛟᛚᚠ

      Kaj mi malsxatas tiun fakton. La lingva diverseco estas grava ero de la Euxropa ideo laux mi. Diferencaj lingvoj ja signifas diferencaj opinioj, sed tiu ne estas malavantagxo; kontrauxe gxi kreas pensan ricxecon.

    • Kate Calder

      @ᚠᛖᚾᚱᛁᛋ : ᚹᛟᛚᚠ – You’re right about diversity, of course – but you use Esperanto, which seems strange. Wasn’t that language designed as a single tongue to supplement (NOT replace) the natural languages and provide an efficient and clear means of communication where needed? Essentially you’re complaining about the use of a lingua franca (lingua anglia?) that’s developed over time, using a synthetic one that was deliberately created for the purpose.

      I see nothing wrong with the Union using a single language for its administrative purposes. It seems much more efficient. Personally I’d have preferred Latin, since it carries relatively little political baggage: outside the Vatican City State, there’s no country using it routinely (and I’m not even sure the Vatican uses it *routinely*). But Esperanto would serve just as well. The only problem with English is that it’s a European mother tongue but not the mother tongue of all member states – so it must inevitably bring political complications.

    • ᚠᛖᚾᚱᛁᛋ : ᚹᛟᛚᚠ

      @Kate Calder

      [eo] Esperanto plu ekzistas. Vi prave menciis, ke ties celo estas funkcii kiel cxies dua lingvo. Gxi ne estas la oficiala lingvo de iu ajn lando, do neniu lando havus grandan avantagxon aux malavantagxon. Tiel gxi helpas protekti lingvojn. Lingvoj kiel Esperanto estas “duona alkurado al la aliulo.”

      [en] Esperanto still exists. You correctly mentioned, that its ideo is to work as everyones second language. It is the official language of no country, so no country has a big advantage or disadvantage. That way Esperanto helps to protect languages. Languages like Esperanto are “walking towards the other half way”.

    • Goelano

      Esperanto is a better common language, because it respects your way of thinking, your way of life, your culture.

  2. Pierfrancesco De Felice

    No we should decide about one official language (I think no English personally because today it’s indispensable and everyone should know it independently) to improve in every European school in order to create a stronger common European sense.

  3. Michael Hales

    The EU already has a common language: English

  4. Franco Alajmo

    Yes oui si ja naturlich of course… inchallah se dio vorrà beyond religions and people who speculate against Europe

  5. Rajmund Klonowski

    Of course there can be European identity without one common language. That’s what makes us European — united in diversity.

    • ᚠᛖᚾᚱᛁᛋ : ᚹᛟᛚᚠ

      [eo] Pravege! Cedi nian lingvan diversecon nur estus rezigno kaj forlaso de la Euxropa ideo.

      [en] Exactly! Giving up our language-diversity would be nothing but a surrender and a renunciation from the European idea.

  6. Ioanna Flouri

    Yes, it can. We should be greatfull for the undividuals who are multilingual and offer help to those people when they need to…

    • Kate Calder

      Go on, then: I’ll bite.

      So Christianity is the common language of Europe? Does it concern whatever reasoning you based this on that Christianity is not a language but a religion? Does it equally concern you that Europe is a diverse continent and that there are hundreds if not thousands of religions, denominations and sects in Europe?

      Does it affect your argument to consider that nominally Christian nations have often been unable to communicate effectively despite sharing this superficial similarity of culture? For example, that the USA and the then-USSR subjected the world to the Cold War (and arguably are still doing so with Russia where the USSR used to be) even though they were both culturally Christian nations? Not to mention the strife in the Baltic states through the 1990s – and that between groups and ethnicities that share an even closer bond of religion?

      I have no problem with Christianity as a faith, as a way of life, or even – to some extent – as the traditional basis for a society’s modern identity. I do not accept the arguments of those who claim religion is inherently damaging and divisive. But I certainly cannot argue that it’s inherently a unifying force – and it most certainly is not a common language.

    • Limbidis Adrian

      ROFL after the Islamic “refugees” come that will change :D

    • Kate Calder

      @Limbidis Adrian: Specifically which part of which comment do you think will change? (Or, in the case of the UK, presumably changed long ago, as Britain has been home to Muslims for a very long time…)

    • Karcsi

      You’re wrong by far… I also wonder how did you find similarities…

  7. Reno Zeddi

    Canada and Switzerland are examples of countries that use different languages..

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      @Reno Zeddi
      Canada is held back by its poor Francophones and Switzerland is held-back by its poor non-Deutsch speakers. What is your point?

    • Karcsi

      You are speaking about a country the size less of a german region and a country with a tiny demographic density. I don’t see the same pattern here…

  8. Nikos Vourlidakis

    The common language exists and it is the Greek the mother of all European languages the others are just dialects

  9. Nikos Trikilis

    Just a trade union caught up in its own pretensions. There is no common converging principle to move toward any longer even in theory such as the EU Constitution and thats alright. Let it die its death in peace and cease the ideological masturbation i.e. identity etc.

    • Kate Calder

      I believe it will die, and it’s very sad. But there are too many people, like yourself, who will not or cannot see any benefit to the simple concept of trying to bring people closer together, whether or not the mechanisms for doing so work perfectly from the very start. There are too many people who want to remain in their own small boxes, mistrustful and afraid of the people in the neighbouring boxes. The EU is – was – an idea too far ahead of its time: unity with recognition of diversity. Co-operation without subjugation.

      I think we’re proving that we’re not ready. But I hope, one day, we’ll tire of inventing superficial reasons to hold each other at arm’s length – we’ll exhaust all the excuses to spit and throw things at each other; we’ll stop drawing imaginary lines on maps and using them to determine who’s better than whom.

      Once we grow up, we can start talking together as human beings; as the people of a single tiny continent and a single tiny planet orbiting a single tiny star in the endless dark. And maybe then we’ll finally work out that we can only really win if we stop trying to win.

      Here’s to unity, even in difference.

  10. Kovács János

    “Citizen of the European Union” is a legal category, and collective identity cannot be built with administrative tools. There is a widening gap between the “cultural Europe” and the “institutional Europe”.

  11. Daniele Laganà

    In Switzerland they have four language and one national identity. ;)
    But because our are so many, we have to use also a common language that mustn’t be a language spoken by one of the people (it cannot be English, French, Italian or Spanish), but a continental language as Latin or Esperanto.

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      @Daniele Lagana
      LOL!
      One of your proposed languages is dead, the other is artificial!

  12. Ulf Skei

    It can. One nice aspect of diversity is walking down a city street and hearing different languages or seeing a wide variety of clothing styles. I love the new Europe of today.

  13. Ayman Alarabiyat

    Of course you can. EU can overcome language barriers. However. Europe should admit of English language popularity around the world. In fact, this because of USA power in all fields. I don’t and won’t to compare. However. English is vehicle language as the same USA dollar is vehicle currency.

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      @Ayman Alarabiyat
      Don’t forget English is the main language in more developed nations than any other – its not all just USA.

    • ᚠᛖᚾᚱᛁᛋ : ᚹᛟᛚᚠ

      @Tarquin Farquhar
      > English is the main language in more developed nations than any other

      [eo] Kvankam mi pensis ke mi bone komprenas skribajxojn je la Angla, mi ne sukcesis kompreni la mesagxon de tiu cxi frazo. Se gxi temas pri la dominado de Globish kiel rimedo por “internacia komunikado”: Kioj estas la kauxzoj por tio laux vi kaj cxu vi opinias, ke tiuj kauxzoj suficxas por pravigi subpremadon de aliaj lingvoj?

      [en] Though i thought i’m capable of understanding written English quite well, i fail to comprehend the message of this sentence. If it is about the current dominance of Globish as a means of “international communication”: What do you think are the reasons for that and would you say that these reasons suffice to justify a supression of other languages?

  14. Sadettin Arslantaş

    dünyanın da kullanacağı basit ortak bir dil neden olmasın!!why not the world’s common language to be used in a simple !! :)

  15. Gerry Gallagher

    Yes of course ….Union doesn’t mean no diversity of culture or language…….I mean for goodness sake,it’s bad enough all carrots have to be the same size and shape!

  16. Lamborghini P.

    Yes, but it’s important to know other languages

  17. Arlinnda Kastrati

    I dont think so, eventhough English is the Lingua Franca. It should but it wont due to the already known factors…

  18. Antonio Tassara

    Me too.. I just wish for the EU to be less political driven and more people driven… for example.. if there is an issue (like immigration) I will like our goverments (or EU goverment) to ask us first instead of just making policy on its own.. since our taxes will be paying for the party.. i think this is fair.

  19. Antonio Tassara

    I take the immigration crisis as an example.. but I will apply this to any and every other problem or situation that the EU is and will be facing in the future

  20. Martin Georgiev

    I believe in an easier version of Latin as it had served for many centuries as the official language between the European countries (and not only them), before it was replaced by French in the 18th century and English in the 20th century.
    Many words are contributed in almost every language in the world.
    The Latin, which was spoken by the Romans, has a really difficult grammar but a more modern Latin would be better in my opinion.
    When Latin (also Old Greek) is being spoken it is like you are doing magic with a magical formula.

    • ᚠᛖᚾᚱᛁᛋ : ᚹᛟᛚᚠ

      [eo] Tio simple ne veras. Certe la Latinidaj lingvoj devenis de la Latina, sed ekzistas multaj pliaj lingvoj en Euxropo; kelkaj da ili ecx ne estas Hind-Euxropa. Do krei/elekti Latinidan lingvon kiel tut-Europan lingvon tute ne estus “solvo”.

      [en] That’s simply not true. Of course Romance languages evolved from Latin, but there are many, many more languages in Europe; some of them are not even Indo-European ones. So creating/selecting a Romance language as pan-European language would not be “the solution” at all.

  21. nando

    Doesn’t Switzerland, among other unions have more than one language?

  22. Peter J. Bury

    yes and no, we simply need to agree on English as the current (it may change over time) lingua franca

    • ᚠᛖᚾᚱᛁᛋ : ᚹᛟᛚᚠ

      [eo] Menciu nur unu validan kauxzon kial ni bezonas konsenti je la Angla lingvo!

      [en] Name one valid reason why we “need to agree on English”!

  23. Raileanu Constantin

    Well, it seems that everyone tries to destroy EU( there is a lot of anti eu propaganda). You may ask yourselves “why”?

  24. Eugenia Serban

    Yes sure. There is a common language as u can see right here.
    We all use ENGLISH.
    PS . I am not English.

    • ᚠᛖᚾᚱᛁᛋ : ᚹᛟᛚᚠ

      [eo] Via mesagxo ne estas tre konvinka, cxar malgraux ties mallongeco vi ne povis skribi gxin je korekta Angla …

      [en] Your message is not very convincing since, despite its brevity, you were not able to write it down in proper English …

  25. João Pedro Ribeiro

    Switzerland, Canada, India, South Africa… Al of them are multilingual and do not have those kinds of identity problems. This is a non-question.

  26. Paulo Especial

    European identity?! Only as an agglomeration of the national identities just like Switzerland!

    To the outside, Europe will start to become viewed as AN identity, just like Switzerland or even the U.S.A., but inside will never stop being Portuguese, Italian, German or English (I don’t use the term British due to not finding that much support from the U.K. citizens that I find around).

    • Kate Calder

      The problem is that using ‘English’ excludes quite a lot of the people you’re probably talking about – namely the people of Scotland and Wales, and of Northern Ireland.

      Internal UK nationalism aside, ‘British’ as a term for a citizen of the United Kingdom is well established and (mostly) correct. Whether the nationalists like it or not, it’s the proper term to use unless you are specifically referring just to the people of England only.

  27. Mario Saverio Donazzi

    This european union is not a nation, is a falsification of history, language is not the only problem, a unique identity will never be possible.

    • Kate Calder

      In what possible way is the European Union a “falsification of history”?

    • Kate Calder

      I would agree.

      This is of particular concern to me as a British citizen. I value my European citizenship very highly, but will lose it when (as seems very likely) Britain holds its referendum and votes to leave the EU.

      Since I don’t have the desire or the practical ability to move out of the UK (I have too many ties here), I can’t avoid this. I’ve never really made use of my European citizenship – I’ve never taken advantage of my rights to movement, etc, but knowing I’m part of it is very important to me.

      And if the referendum does go against Europe, I don’t want to have stop being European and go back to being just British; a citizen of a tiny, isolated island nation that couldn’t bear to think bigger.

    • EU reform- proactive

      Kate, the EU is not a country, but a “concept”! Conquered gradually through treaty’s by bureaucrats in the last ~60 years! It is (only) a “pan European” dream & stepping stone for a NWO!

      EU “citizenship” is supplementary to any national citizenship- giving you some rights within the EU’s “legal” supranational entity and border less travel- if your country is part of the Schengen treaty/area.

      Should the “EU concept” one day collapse- you only lost your supplementary citizenship- but NEVER your national one! There is always the possibility of a collapse of the “EU concept”- due to several reasons.
      Britain or any sovereign state will NEVER collapse or be dissolved- except the EC gets it right to dissolve all nations’ parliaments, your queen & Britain’s remaining sovereignty! You hope & want that?

    • Kate Calder

      Would I want to be part of a single, unified European community? Yes, absolutely. And I would relinquish my British citizenship quite willingly were that the price of membership of a true European nation.

      Just as I would rather be part of a unified British state than merely English, Scottish or Welsh; and should the opportunity one day arise, I would give up my European citizenship without a second thought if I had the option to be part of a single *world* nation. If that is the ‘NWO’ you spoke of, then I’d welcome it.

      I obey my country’s laws, pay my taxes and in return enjoy the benefits of British citizenship. But I am human first. I would like to see the world move beyond the nation-state: they divide people unnecessarily, and provide too easy a rationalisation for conflict, absolving us of the need to work to find actual solutions.

      Just as it is with the European concept: it’s far from perfect; it needs a lot of improvement. And that’s hard work. It’s much easier for people to wash their hands of it and retreat to old, parochial attitudes. I would rather stay a part of it, improve it, and give it up only when a greater project is created.

  28. Paulius Eidukas

    Successful communication is essential in order to create a sense of unity, and, therefore, I think that a common language is required. I think that English can satisfactorily be called as Europe’s lingua franca, as it is the standard language in most international European institutions, and it is the standard language by which people from different nations usually communicate.

    One may argue that there are other ways of communication, or that communication is not even required for a common identity. But I don’t see those arguments as persuasive, since identity needs a very strong and solid linguistic foundation, which helps people share and understand each other’s values and culture. Without that, it seems unlikely that a common European identity would emerge.

  29. Andrei B Tarnea

    Certainly it can! It needs a strong and coherent set of principles and a working administration. But it needs cross European political parties. It needs to become a polity. We also need to work on explaining the junction between the local, national and EU level decision making. That cannot be done by bureucrats alone. It needs leadership of the political and intellectual sort.

  30. Andrei B Tarnea

    If anything the current overlapping crisis may be an oportunity for just that. One that Visegrad politicians are failing!

    • ᚠᛖᚾᚱᛁᛋ : ᚹᛟᛚᚠ

      [eo] Nova lingvo, kiu estus funkcionta kiel jxusta tut-Euxropa lingvo, devus esti a-priori-lingvo; do gxi ne rilatus al iu ajn ekzistanta lingvo. Mi ege dubas, ke tiu estus kreonta pli bonan Euxropan identitecon.

      [en] A new language which shall work as a just pan-European language would need to be a a-priori one; so it would not be related to any existing language. I highly doubt, that this would help creating a better European identity.

  31. Antonio Pinto Caldeira

    Isn’t every country constituted of several families?
    A common language may make communication easier but that’s it. We don’t want a single culture, a single thought, a single government or a single “religion”.
    We don’t need a ” new world order”, we need more effective solidarity between Nations.

  32. Marco Franck

    yes look in the USA, diversity of cultures, Spanish, Chinese etc…. all speak their languages in huge neighborhoods thous embrace the United States Flag and integrate well. These become patriotic. Go and see for yourself.

  33. Cristina Rodrigues Pereira

    It already exists, the common language is English as it was latin in the past and my birth language, portuguese, is spoken by millions of people in the world. What the UE should not be is an instrumental power that serves the bigger and more powerful countries to destroy the smaller ones. My country has a history of almost 9 centuries and our language is the 5th widest spoken language in the world thanks to the bravery and navigating skills of our ancestors if you think we are giving up on that you are wrong, no matter what our corrupt politicians do to serve their own interests. Neo-stalinism in Europe no, please!! India has many languages and cultural diversity yet it is still a country…

  34. Manuel Cruz

    It can but it will not be a true union without a common language. For all the dreamers out there, just ask yourselves how can you have truly working paneuropean institutions while speaking 24 different languages: imagine a coast guard in which each ship has instructions in a different language? Or having crews that do not speak very well at least one common language? How can Europe unleash all its potential if it is always divided between nationalities? It can not. If we are to become a truly union (and i believe we should) we must have a common working language. English is the most practical for all reasons.

  35. Qi Jenny

    of course; it can; language, culture; culinary, variety is already an identity:::

  36. klassen

    The european commen identity doesnt exist..
    Europeans live together apart.. Weve always done so and by changing the rules without asking is trouble..
    This again is laying the ground work and concenses for a fed..
    Back up the truck!
    Ask europe what it wants first. Dont take without asking…

  37. Peter Kuscher

    Funny question. English+national language already seems to be the common language solution.

    Just because some European heads of state insist on giving their press conferences in their national language and all important things are published in all European languages, that doesn’t mean there is no silent agreement about the fact that English is the common European Language.

    You just need to visit a given European city, especially young Europeans will be able to switch between their national language and the European language quite fluently, as well as in the bigger nations (e.g. Germany) they are already able to talk in Bavarian, Saxonian or “Platt” dialect, but will be able to understand national News in the public service or to respond to strangers from other federal states, too. And no one would hardly doubt there is something like a German identity.

    So, don’t worry, people are not THAT stubborn and can handle diverse identities simultaneously. Language to my mind seems not to be a serious barrier in Europe.

    National egoisms, social disparities etc. seem to be the serious challenges.

  38. Giuseppe Zonta

    let’s make a European football team, that will unite European citiizens more than anything else

  39. Vassiliki Xifteri

    Since Europe is a league of nations than it should not have one language. It would deprive its whole essence.

  40. Michaël Renders

    Yes it’s possible but not really by the classic way of culture or history. We all have heard the classics of pop and rock music, we are all part of a kind of christianisme or atheism that criticise Christians, but in my opinion the biggest feeling is to make part of a multinational project for freedom and peace with values that have been applied politically like social solidarity. It’s first time in history that so many different cultures want to speak with one voice. Our anthem hasn’t to be sing to give us all a big feeling of being European!

  41. Manuel

    The point is that European identity is something different than national identities and one characteristic, better to say THE characteristic, of Europe is that it is multilingual so its citizenry should be multilingual too and so it’s identity. The European identity could be the instrument to overcome our national identities (not forget) and build a more respectful and evolved human being.

    • ᚠᛖᚾᚱᛁᛋ : ᚹᛟᛚᚠ

      [eo] Ho, ja, pli direndas. La Angla ne estas elekto de la popolo, sed trudo de la monda situacio. Rigardu la jenan filmet-serion por kompreni la fenomenon “lingua franca”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FD-z3JCCzM

      [en] Oh, yes, there is more to say. English is not the choice of the people, but an imposition from the complex situation in the world. Watch the following video-series to understand the phenomenon “lingua franca”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FD-z3JCCzM

  42. Dawid Dubanosow

    maybe first step should be possibility of using english in all goverment forms, and politics should be all in english, so “normal” ppl will get used to it. only then we should switch to one language, and that would be for sure English.

    • gabriel

      I don’t think that’s what they have in mind, given the probable Brexit in the following years.

    • Mercurio

      German is not spoken in Southern Europe so that is simple provocation.

  43. Sten Hubinette

    Yes, each country is still, and should remain a separate people, but joined economically, for the common good.

  44. Tiago Raimundo

    Yes, I belive that is possible have an European identity without a common language.

    • Andrea

      So why are we all commenting in English in here? How can European people communicate without a common language?

  45. noth

    if not change the situation right know in europe as it is there isn’t any europaen identity and never will be and the only think that can be is a germanfrance axx that every time is happen to europe there was war and even Worldwide

  46. gabriel

    There is no European identity as long as the Christian heritage was rejected as a defining part of that identity. Nothing else unites all EU member states. The result of this rejection is the invasion we are seeing today. English language is the common language, but that has nothing to do with European identity as it is world’s lingua franca.
    Besides, language is not such an important factor for identity – US, Australia and Britain are all English – speaking nations but they are different nations. Also, Switzerland has four official languages if I’m not mistaken but they are all Swiss, no matter what their native tongue is.
    I admit I’m a suspicious nature and I suppose this talk about language all of a sudden has something to do with the Brexit. In case that happens, there is still Ireland so English will have to stay as an official EU language.

    • Gavin Crowley

      Ireland is not so deeply and emotionally attached to English as are the British. After Brexit you who use it as a second language would be free to amend and change and simplify English as you wish.

  47. Sebastien Chopin

    Can a european identity exist with a common intelligence…. however before idiots get too excited…. lets get rid of the journalists who ask these type of questions…. and think further ahead with the bright ones….

  48. Bob

    I agree with Kalypso Nicolaïdis that the different languages and cultures are what make us European. To me the idea behind the EU is that we got together and said “Let us acknowledge that we are all different, but instead of fight it out, try to cooperate”. Hence, without the differences we would have nothing uniting us.

  49. Nuno Ribeiro Palha

    No common language ! That won’t happen and it is not needed ! Why does this forum ask this question again and again ? This is the kind of idea that brings Europeans apart ! Either the idea of Europe is compatible with national identities or otherwise it will have no future !

  50. James Campbell

    Within the UK, the national identities of England, Scotland and Wales have survived intact, despite 100s of years of political union. In fact, many Scots want independence. So, the idea of political union between the UK and Balkan and Baltic countries is just plain stupid.

    Of course, we can always find common European values and cultural traits, but political union is just unnecessary. Why this artificial pressure for political union in Europe?

  51. Taline Babikian Angelidou

    Yes…why a common language?!! The risk of losing the identity of each country and its culture is higher. Preserve your identity and culture. Having Euro as the common currency is more than enough.

  52. Rui Correia

    Yes, of course it can.
    All it takes is common will, determination, common sense, a few history lessons (with the most important bits from each country throughout the centuries) and some education.
    So everybody can understand where do we all come from, what we all went through over our history, and all the lessons learned that make us what we are today as a society.
    But… well… yes, it would be much easier with a common language. Either that, or all Europeans should be able to communicate clearly in 2 or 3 different European languages, without fear of being discriminated against by others, because of their native singular accents.
    Paradox: we all speak English quite well, but… Britain still seems to be the most anti-EU country, somehow refusing its share of European identity… strange, to say the least… food for thought, maybe?

  53. hans van veen

    There is no European identity, and several languages. So why this question?

  54. Rui Correia

    Hmm… sharing a thought:
    Maybe we’ve all been influenced by all the “American-media-marketing-b***sh**-hustle” etc etc…
    Afterall, we do have to admit: being Europe one of the main global standard bearers of civilization, the “land of confusion” (US of A) is still a success story in terms of colonial development, independence and economic success… maybe?
    It’s a huge English-speaking marketing machine! – even though I prefer the British countryside and its simplicity.
    Then again… what do I know?!?
    Maybe not much.
    All I know, from so much knowledge I’ve always tried to gather, is that… I know nothing…?
    I just know one thing for sure: I wouldn’t swap a down-to-earth British farm or a traditional British village for the whole USA.
    Yet some British are so anti-EU and/or anti-European identity, mainly for economic/financial/demographic reasons… or???
    They are right in some aspects… but looking at today’s Britain, some things are a bit hard to understand…

  55. Antti Häikiö

    Like to see the method. It differs much from other studies. This result can be seriously questioned, not for result but methods and conclusions. The EU uses facts.

  56. Rednic

    Of course it can. It’s already happening. More and more Europeans learn others languages for various interests, the communication is improving day by day and many of them adopt English as a main or spare language. And it’s not a danger for national states as many nationalists would say. After all, there were very long periods of time in the past when frontiers were set mostly to define the authority of the landlords and were guarded only against neighbors or warrior nomads and still kept their uniqueness. By then nobody thought about self determination. And it also existed an universal common language (Latin) and still didn’t change diversity. Nevertheless we live different times and some means of preservation of the local specific would be required for tourism sake, but in the end, in despite of wealth differences that still are among them, Europeans have more ore less the same way of thinking, the same social values, the same view on work and free time, the same taste for democracy and personal liberties. And I find this amazing that this cohesion formed without an external common menace.

  57. Carlos Alves

    Para que uma língua comum se não há uma politica comum e interesses em comum?
    Acho q deviam debater coisas mais prioritárias neste momento!

  58. Anna

    Yes! There will always be diversity in the EU, but that’s good. The problem is economic differences, not the language. Of course, everybody should know how to speak English.

  59. σαγαπαω κοιτα

    It has nothing to do with language. when Europe ceases to care about being a centralized economical empire, it will be the first step towards that. But this is never gonna happen, so there is no point in analyzing bullshit :)

  60. David Cavafis

    Well, most of the European countries have more than one language spoken in its territory. It’s a pointless question.

  61. EU reform- proactive

    What do the EU/EC/DE planners think should this jolly clown like exhibited African immigrant juggler dressed in EU blue with yellow stars represent? Maybe how politicians cynically “juggle’ us out of our minds & sovereignty. In return for such “services” they feel justified to impose tighter shackles, more regulations & less personal freedom? It’s a fail!

    I do not need a Suzerain to impose a common language on all- in return for less choices & less personal freedom- only the gullible & naive fall for such political serenades! It will evolve & develop naturally from the bottom up- by global demand!

  62. Питащият

    Ето , аз ще отговоря на моят роден език и да видим кой ще ме разбере. Почти всички езици в ЕС са от едно семейство и имат общи корени Затова мисля,че проблемът не е голям, ако се изберат само три задължителни езика . Един от немските , един от славянските и един от романските . Нека са най-лесните и и близките помежду си .

    • Питащият

      Behold, I will answer using my native language and see who will understand me. Almost all EU languages are a family and have common roots So I think the problem is not large, if you choose only three compulsory languages. A German, a Slavic and a Romance. Let it be the easiest and friends and each other.

    • ᚠᛖᚾᚱᛁᛋ : ᚹᛟᛚᚠ

      [eo] Tiu estas interesa propono. Jam ekzistas pont-lingvoj por la Latinida kaj Slava lingvo-familioj: Interlingua (https://eo.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interlingvao) kaj Slovianski (https://eo.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slovianski). Ankaux ekzistas projektoj por krei Gxermana pont-lingvo. Sed krom tiuj tri oni precipe protektu la lingvojn, kiuj ne estas kunigata per tiaj lingvoj, ekzemple la Greka, la Armena, la Albana, la Hungara, la Finna, la Estona, la Euxskara, k.t.p.

  63. Marcel

    Where was this poll taken, the Berlaymont building in Brussels?

    • Goelano

      But Esperanto is a better common language : chipper, quicker to learn and to practice, …

  64. Michael Betsch

    While I subscribe to the idea of language as an “identity-marker”, I would contradict the statement that “People speak the language of the group they feel” belonging to; it is as well the other way round: your feel you belong to the group whose language you speak. Thus it goes both ways.

  65. Michael Betsch

    The scheme of works of national literatures has several flaws: E.g., it is absurd to put the titles in English, if you are dealing with works written in another language. And of course, F. may have been born and mostly lived in Prague, but he wrote in German and belongs to the German literary tradition.

  66. Michael Betsch

    Some participants seem to extol English as a common European language and thus vehicle for a common European identity. But interestingly, the one nation its national language it happens to be is the one who least identifies with the EU and who seems ready to leave it.

    • Kate Calder

      Very good point.

      Though I’d appeal to other Europeans to bear in mind that there are people in the UK who will be very, very disappointed at a vote to leave.

      I fully expect that vote, but I think it’ll be a colossal step backwards for Britain.

    • Jens Baganz

      @Kate Calder, I have gone through all your comments, and they are really thrilling me. Goodness, if we had more people like you in Europe, this continent would make headway much faster, instead of crawling about. Look at http://www.we-are-europe.org, we try to represent exactly your way of thinking.

  67. blugalf

    “Identity” at least in this sense is a very weakly defined and largely useless concept to begin with. That kind of “Identity” doesn’t promote or improve anything. For the most part, people who strongly claim an identity -in the sense of national or cultural identity- have precious little else to offer. Just look around – see how nonchalantly people shed their “identity” and freely swap it for another when it suits their material needs? Call me an utilitarian or radical pragmatist, but that’s what it amounts to. /It’s the economy, stupid/, Clinton certainly had that right.

    So the pragmatic thing is to establish an environment in which are no pointless, antiquated political and geographic obstacles to economic, scientific and cultural pursuit. Where people, goods and knowledge can move freely; and where certain issues, which an entity the size of an European nation state is not ideally primed for addressing, are bundled and redirected to a supranational level. There you have the EU in a nutshell. The individual member states can carry on playing Foreign Policy, say, largely ignored by the international big shots – no harm done, no urgent need to build a ‘We’ here that is globally respected.

    Language? Blah. Look at Switzerland, Canada, India. The latter especially. That’s not the main obstacle. Again, the only meaningful path is the pragmatic one- use the de facto standard and improve on it, such that as many people as possible can communicate in this language with ease, at a level approaching their native abilities. What’s needed here is moving past the so called European Lingua Franca which, at the moment, is not English but Bad English, mostly just used reluctantly as a third rate fill-in where nothing else will avail. Start at early age, do it systematically, and this won’t be much of an issue in 20 years. And of course, waste no energy on the clowns calling for Esperanto, Latin and what have you; nor on those clowns feeling childishly exalted by the fact that their native English is the international language of this century.

  68. Ferreira

    E very, country must have english as secund language in school

    • ᚠᛖᚾᚱᛁᛋ : ᚹᛟᛚᚠ

      Especially yours should do that asap.
      Yoo no wadd eye meen?

      Such appeals to adopt English, written in improper English, are so ineffable ridicolous.

    • blugalf

      ineffably.

      No language I have some command of spares you the burden of learning the difference between adjective and adverb.

    • ᚠᛖᚾᚱᛁᛋ : ᚹᛟᛚᚠ

      The difference is: I know my English is bad and don’t demand that everybody should learn it.

    • blugalf

      –> see post below, comment ended up in the wrong place.

  69. MandyTaylor

    Eo Inlise. Eo nao compreendo todo. Mas, edo understand (compreend) mixto, I understand a mix but not, eo comprend um mixto nao todo: porque? Linguesta dymatica – desdo Europe – linguesta estou dynamtica – mista e movementos – mix and move. The world moves.

    • blugalf

      Speaking English perfectly is not a requirement for being allowed to suggest that learning it (as a /second language/!) should be encouraged and promoted.

      People who aren’t interested in language as a subject on its own, kids past the optimal age window, or people who simply have other things on their hands as it is aren’t likely to ever get close to native perfection. That holds for any foreign language, for that matter.

      What us non-native speakers can do, however, is to see to it that /all/ our kids acquire proper English as a second language. And by that I mean being truly bilingual, or at least approaching it. None of the early learning facilities I’ve seen in various countries (with the exception of some private schools for rich kids) come even close to that goal.

      I’ve often compared the whole issue to a heavy cargo train: once it’s in motion, forget just stopping and reversing its course simply like that; no way. But what we can do, given enough determination and perseverance, is to coax it into a better direction. By that I mean away from the horrible abyss that is the lowest-common-denominator Pidgin.

    • ᚠᛖᚾᚱᛁᛋ : ᚹᛟᛚᚠ

      @Blugalf

      > Speaking English perfectly is not a requirement for being allowed to
      > suggest that learning it (as a /second language/!) should be
      > encouraged and promoted.

      Kind of true, indeed. But everytime someone with poor English skills proposes to adopt English everywhere, it strengthens the picture that these people are nothing but opportunistic victims, deceived by the media.

      > People who aren’t interested in language as a subject on its own, kids
      > past the optimal age window, or people who simply have other things
      > on their hands as it is aren’t likely to ever get close to native
      > perfection. That holds for any foreign language, for that matter.

      You got it. Using a language, which is the mother tongue of others, will never be able to convey or establish the idea of equality. That’s why a more neutral language should be prefered.

      > What us non-native speakers can do, however, is to see to it that /all/
      > our kids acquire proper English as a second language. And by that I
      > mean being truly bilingual, or at least approaching it. None of the early
      > learning facilities I’ve seen in various countries (with the exception of
      > some private schools for rich kids) come even close to that goal.

      And what will the kids in Great Britain, the United States, Australia, etc. will do meanwhile? If they are not forced to learn a different language, it would give them an unfair advantage. The result would be, that other nations are pushed toward adopting English. No, thanks!

      > I’ve often compared the whole issue to a heavy cargo train: once it’s
      > in motion, forget just stopping and reversing its course simply like
      > that; no way. But what we can do, given enough determination and
      > perseverance, is to coax it into a better direction. By that I mean away
      > from the horrible abyss that is the lowest-common-denominator
      > Pidgin.

      And what exactly shall that mean? Currently the Pidgin you’re talking about is Globish. I agree that it is ugly. So use real English instead? Name just one valid reason why English should be chosen!

  70. gatita

    Of course it can. That’s the beauty of Europe. If we don’t respect our roots and cultural heritage by adopting a single language this would not bring us closer. This would alienate us from European Union. I fully agree with Calypso.Learning languages in school is enough,or using technical means could help. At any rate PLEASE no Esperanto or any other artificial language without any cultural background behind.
    And a question: René being related to the liberal group does his question mean that this group intends to propose monolingualism to the European Institutions?

    • Goelano

      You write this because you don’t know what Esperanto is. Look for informations about it.

  71. Adrian Limbidis

    @Kate Calder
    I was reffering to christianity as a common “language”.
    Just wait for the islamic garbage to flow in and then see for yourself….assuming your male master allows you to leave the house and you cover yourself up of course…

  72. Ferreira

    English for every one as secund language, know

  73. Jens Baganz

    Language is not the prior tool to generate identity – right. The prior tool to generate a European identity would be collective European, i.e. transnational action: Some of us should have gone to Kiev and support the demonstrators against the gov. Some of us should have gone to Budapest and support the demonstrators against restrictions of press freedom. Some of us should join the ‘Shame on you Orban’ protests in Budapest. The problem is: We Europeans leave each other alone, in times of distress and need.

    • EU reform- proactive

      Jens, such conviction is admirable and puts you on the frontier of pc compliance! Some of us are more down to earth, more realistic, but less all out transnational & less pc compliant and don’t want to be first to join the “Mars One” Mission- propagated by an equal global utopist & universalist Bas Lansdorp!

  74. Eva Elisabet Haglund

    I do believe in a Europe where we all learn our different native languages for communication, all of them representing different cultures and ways of thinking. Parents and teachers should strive to work together to encourage every child from an early childhood to learn two or three big languages. And let them all know the reason why.

  75. Katherine Anne Oakwood

    I think having a cultural identity is important. This age of networking and technology is starting to give us global hegemony. It is important for countries to be united but are we at risk of losing our individuality and what makes us stand out. I would agree about the importance of teaching our children different languages but in some cases children are not even getting the education to read and write in their own languages, such as school children in the UK who are not meeting the mark in English/literature studies.

    • Eva Elisabet Haglund

      Thanks for your reply. I agree, it is a big failure of the whole school system leaving so many children behind. In Sweden there are about 14 % of the 15 years old (14.000) whose marks in literacy and maths are too low for further studies (PISA 2012). The situation might be even worse if we don´t know how to take care of all the refugees, teaching them to learn a foreign language, preparing them to make their own living. – What plans are there in the UK to solve those huge problems?

  76. razvan

    Every country which is part of the European Union has it’s own cultural identity. The language differences are also an important aspect of the Union. We have to think to the future and put ourselves an important question: “Are these language differences a barrier in front of further development of the European societies in the next 40 or 50 years?”
    Look at United States. One single language spoken from the Atlantic Ocean to Pacific Ocean and US is the leading power of the world in this moment.

  77. Diego José Costa Pérez

    No common language = impossible union. BUT, one common language and bilingual diversity = wonderful space of exchange and cultural richness.

  78. Penny Hale

    I love the diversity of Europe, and even though there are 24 official languages I feel that I have far more in common with Europeans and European culture than the Americans with whom I share a common language.

  79. Enric Mestres Girbal

    We don’t feel europeans because the EU has decived us…it’s a place where only politicians and capitalists can live. As for the lenguaje, if the EP had told the governaments to include ESPERANTO as a second idiom in their school program now, 30 years later, we could understand each other. But, of course, politicians don’t like that idea.

  80. Yordan Vasilev

    The language is English, but the values are the democracy and the free market.

  81. Dominique Couturier

    Et allez, on en remet une couche en anglais!! Oui une langue commune aiderait à la naissance d’un “demos”. Mais NON cette langue commune ne peut pas être l’anglais qui est marquée historiquement et culturellement. L’UNESCO a reconnu la valeur de l’espéranto. Le CONSEIL DE L’EUROPE a validé le CERL (Cadre de référence des langues) et la Hongrie enseigne (encore) cette langue et valide les examens.

  82. Marco Marazzi

    English is the de facto vehicular language in Europe already, if everybody learns it as a second language we have solved the “communication” problem within the EU. I believe those who still deny that English is the de facto vehicular language in Europe remind me of those who “hate technology” but then one minute later check their emails on their smartphone and reply.

  83. Paco Bernabé Pellicer

    We need students to get an Erasmus grant for at least a semester, so that they get the chance to study in a foreign country within Europe. Building a European identity takes time, and the Erasmus grant is the perfect way of meeting people from the whole continent and travelling around to get to know Europe. After some time you feel comfortable and you stop seeing other people as Swedish, Italians, French, Dutch… but as Europeans, and you feel the same way about your own nationality.

  84. Anna Raffaini

    Io penso che sia importante individuare ufficialmente una lingua comune europea in modo da eliminare le incomprensioni linguistiche tra i paesi e i cittadini UE. Lascerei le lingue indigene come seconda lingua

  85. Simone Mura

    Difficult to say, in particular nowadays during these crazy times of globalization process still going. The most probably outcome is a mixed language that will emerge in the future from all our languages, or the officialization of English as common language. But English will change anyway, so it s better to wait and see what will happen.

  86. Laura

    Yes, and no. Language is an important part of one’s own culture, one’s home, which all factors into your identity. But it is also part of a community, part of a lifestyle you share with others. It’s something you all hold together and it grows and develops, like your identity, in your community over time, etc. I think this applies better to, for example, latina and south american communities living in diaspora, e.g. speaking spanish is important to them for an example. But those that speak English – it’s like almost synonymous with 21st century imperialism and colonialism. Everybody speaks it everywhere, you’re considered dumb and uncivilised if you don’t. People who don’t speak English in TV are often Maids or people who work in the service industry – does that factor into one’s identity? How language can be unconsciously assimilated into who you are and what you are in society? It affects your identity without you even vocalising it yourself. I think the whole idea of existing without a common language is reminding certain individuals (namely British imperialists) that there are countries that haven’t been invaded and exploited yet, and the idea that a common language which might not exist, just goes to show how desperate we are to push our policies onto other countries. I mean people are already deeming the Migrant Crisis as an “invasion” into their identities and their homes, as if our lives are being taken over. If anything, every single country in this world has a unique and worthwhile culture/language, and we should be nourishing them, rather than expecting everybody to convert. It’s the classic nature that those in power want to interfere and control everything, and anything that is unknown to them, is automatically deemed wrong – like one who speaks a language they cannot understand. It’s like saying to them “we can’t break down your identities, so therefore we’ll oppress you.”

    We should respect individualism in every person, language and culture that exists in Europe, and we should respect their right to choose and cultivate their own identities.

  87. Henrik Johansson

    English certainly seem to be emerging as the common tongue and while it does help us in the world, it doesn’t really differentiate us in any way. With English as a sloppy second or third language (especially if the British leave), we risk become nothing more than a pale shadow of the US.
    Most likely that’s where we’re heading.

    If I’m allowed to dream, I would love a union where French became the official language and as such became the focus of education with the goal that every citizen should master it either as a first or a second language. German would be good too, but I think French would be easier to learn for Spanish and Italian speakers? This would create an identity for us in the world and that would strengthen my bond with the European Union.

    By the way, I’m not French.

  88. Dominique Couturier

    Dunque ancora una volta c’è una discussione in inglese, mentre questa lingua si parla piuttosto male nelle classi più povere e specialmente nell’Europa latina.
    OVVIAMENTE, quelli CHE NON SANNO L’inglese, che non ne vogliono, non hanno il diritto di esprimersi.
    Il mio parere, benché io sono capace di parlare più di 5 lingue (quasi 7) sarà chiaro. L’inglese non DEVE mai diventare la lingua commune dell’Europa, ma ovviamente sì sarebbe meglio avere una lingua commune.
    Si potrebbe (si dovrebbe!!!) usare l’esperanto, di apprendimento facilissimo, che aiuta a capire e rispetare TUTTE le colture e tutti paesi. Purtroppo questo non piace ai “potenti” che ci governano. SE IL POPOLO POTESSE FACILMENTE COMMUNICARE, CHI SA? FORSE GLI POTREBBE scacciare via.
    Gia da più di 40 anni, ci hanno messo in mente che l’inglese sarebbe migliore, ma questo è una manipulazione delle menti, perché la gente non è bene informata. Mi fa schiffo è una vergogna.

  89. Marco Marazzi

    I can’t believe some people still believe Esperanto can be a common language learned by everybody in Europe…..

    • ALeksK

      Perché no, Marco ? Pourquoi pas ? Kial ne ? Warum nicht ? Gia l’imparanno persone quasi ovunque in Europa.
      Se l’inglese diventa la lingua oficiale della UE, l’UE sara veramente une colonia di USA.

    • Couturier Dominique

      Puo spiegare perché “non lo puo credere”? Forse si crede piu bravo perché sta seguendo il “main steam”?
      “Imparato da tutti”, no direi questo. Basterebbe che soltanto 20% l’ imparassero, e l’imperio dell’inglese certo comincerebbe a vacillare. Perché? Bah: è più facile e piu potente, dunque piu efficace.
      ————————-
      Can you explain why you “cannot believe”? Perhaps you think you’re smarter than othe people because you follow the “main stream”?
      I would not say “learnt by everyone”, BUT if only 20% of children could learn it, I’m sure that after very few years, the empire of english-as-an-international-language would become more and more weak, because esperanto is more powerfull and at the same time easier to learn.
      BUT probably you know very little about it.

    • Goelano

      Don’t believe, Marco, and try Esperanto, use Esperanto, and you’ll understand by yourself how Esperanto can help the european identity. Another language would build its own identity.

    • Alex Escomu

      I can’t believe some people still believe slavery can be abolished. I can’t believe some people believe women should have the right of vote. I can’t believe some people still believe a bridge language should be culture neutral and easy to learn. I can’t believe 225000 have learned Esperanto in 7 months! Yes, here. https://www.duolingo.com/course/eo/en/Learn-Esperanto-Online
      Everything is possible, but people who only follow the masses will never be the first to fight for justice, they are blind because of ignorance (>prejudices) and can only repeat what the majority is saying, even if objectively it’s unfair to know someone in the UK isn’t wasting 1000 hours learning a foreign language and you have too. Think what happens when a situation forces people to spend so much time on a language that will remain inefficient and unfair. No estás al mismo nivel de un nativo. No te engañes

  90. Chris Panagis

    Cohesion and solidarity should be the first steps, not language. If you reach those two, then it depends on the union you envision. Is it a federation that respects cultural diversity? If so, then each country should retain its own language. If complete union is the vision, then yes, pick a language. BUT, why use that simplistic and lacking English as a common language? What was the criteria in the first place anyhow? Because there must be criteria for a change that important. I would suggest as criteria, the adaptability of a language, the scientific and commercial potential of a language, and its ability to progress in a uniform and logical way.

  91. PS Tandorf

    We are already “united in diversity” Latin should be the official EU language in every state plus regional language. It would be like Ireland where signs etc are in two languages and would always use Latin and the local language. Latin is our common linguistic heritage after all.

  92. Amy C

    It is a tricky question! Whoever is close with the study of languages is aware of the fact that the language is some sort of core value that holds aspecst of what we define an identity. But we have to take into account that trying to define something always involves some sort of barriers, but who is in charge to decide who or what is in or not? Maybe the concept of a common European identity is itself restrictive. At any case, my answer is yes! We can perceive ourself as european without sharing a common language! The predominance of the enligsh language is so unquestionable that I found it so unclever to stay here still arguing about “but why English and no other languages?”. The English language has so many advantages on its side. First of all it is a very easy language depending on grammar, syntactic structure and lexicon (what about French, Italian and German???) and last but not least over 400 years of Colonialism (it sounds familiar, isn’t it? )

  93. Goelano

    Yes, the european identity can exist if the commun language is Esperanto (the International Language).

  94. Goelano

    La angla ne povas esti la oficiala lingvo de Eŭropo, ĉar ĝi estas la denaska lingvo de eŭropanoj kiuj, dank´al tiu lingvo, prenas la plej bonajn postenojn. La aliaj kiuj ne bone regas la anglan ne povas havi tiajn postenojn.

  95. Dominique Couturier

    FR: (EN below) Si vous voulez voir des gens unis dans la diversité, regardez donc cette vidéo
    Bon, d’accord, il n’y avait pas que des Européens, mais tout de même, quelle intercompréhension!
    Regardez à la 6 e minute, Cette Suissesse qui traduit le mot “PAIX” en plusieurs langues…
    ———————–
    If you want people “united in diversity”, look at this video.
    OK, there are not only Europeans, but how well they understand each other!
    Notice, at the 6th minute, this woman from Switzerland, who translate the word “peace” in several languages…

    http://pobieramy.net/yt/0XU_lx8dgUc/94a-kongreso-de-esperanto-en-bjalistoko/

  96. Nick the Greek

    Language Name – generates Ethnicity. Country Name – generates Nationality.
    On this basis, European identity can only exist at the ‘supra’ level. European = Supranational identity.

    So, for as long as the Nation-State exists, ‘European’ becomes 3rd, or 1st
    protocol-identity depending on which order you use, to place these very important identity-factors – country (internal) regional name, nation state-name, continent name.

    1- European, from Macedonia, Greece – for good example.

    2- Macedonian, from Northern-Greece, Europe – for another example.

  97. greymatter

    yes it can – and therein lies the problem!

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