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European Education Area

Quality education and training for all

About multilingualism policy

Why is multilingualism important?

The EU's motto ‘united in diversity’ symbolises the essential contribution that linguistic diversity and language learning make to the European project. 

Languages unite people, render other countries and their cultures accessible, and strengthen intercultural understanding. Foreign language skills play a vital role in enhancing employability and mobility. Multilingualism also improves the competitiveness of the EU economy

Poor language skills can cause companies to lose international contracts, as well hindering the mobility of skills and talent. Yet, too many Europeans still leave school without a working knowledge of a second language. For this reason, the EU has set the improvement of language teaching and learning as a priority.

What is the EU doing to promote multilingualism?

In the Council Conclusions on multilingualism and the development of language competences, Member States committed to enhancing cooperation in the field of multilingualism and improving the effectiveness of language teaching in schools.

The European Commission is working together with national governments to meet an ambitious goal – for all citizens to learn at least two foreign languages and to begin learning foreign languages at an early age

This vision was confirmed by EU Heads of State as part of the proposal to create a European Education Area. Further support for this target was echoed in the December 2017 European Council Conclusions.

The Commission is responding to this call from Member States to reinforce the central role of multilingualism in the European project by:

These activities are supported by:

Finally, the Erasmus+ programme offers opportunities to young people to hone their language skills by engaging in learning and training abroad, and by supporting vocational and educational mobility.