In an open letter, which has gathered over 1,800 signatures since last Friday evening, the community is petitioning the College of Commissioners to address the multilingual challenge in Europe. “Linguistic diversity is and must remain a cornerstone and treasured cultural asset of Europe,” the letter states. “However, the language barriers created by our 24 official EU languages cause the European market to be fragmented and to fall short of its economic potential.”
The letter to the European Commission points out that 46% of Europeans speak only their native language, only 38% of Europeans speak English well enough to hold a conversation, and 21 European languages are on the verge of digital extinction.
To address the situation, the letter states: “Europe needs a strategy to remove language barriers, enabling EU businesses and people, and providing equal digital opportunities for all EU language communities.”
The signees – who currently include over 40 company CEOs, 400 university professors, and 700 PhDs representing all 28 EU Member States – urge the European Commission to fully support the continued development of IT solutions for bridging language barriers, providing equal treatment for all EU languages regardless of their size or economic power.
“We believe that such technology solutions, based on excellent European industry innovations and research results, will provide all European citizens, businesses and public institutions access to high-quality machine translation and additional sophisticated language solutions for businesses, consumers and cross-border public services.”
The European Commission will be officially informed of the open letter prior to the orientation debate on the Digital Single Market strategy on March 25 in Brussels. A major gathering to promote solutions supporting multilingual Europe will be held next month at the Riga Summit on the Multilingual Digital Single Market on April 27-29 in Riga, Latvia.