Rules governing the languages used by the European Union's institutions
Linguistic diversity is one of the basic characteristics of the European Union and is a major cultural asset. The accession of ten new Member States in May 2004 and then two more in January 2007 has meant a doubling of the number of official languages. No other organisation or institution in the world operates in so many languages.
The European Union's institutions have common rules for languages, laid down by the Council in 1958. Those rules have been amended a number of times with successive enlargements and now cover twenty-three official and working languages, namely: Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish.To ensure that the European Council and the Council function as multilingual institutions, the General Secretariat of the Council has a Language Service which, for legislative texts, works closely with the "Quality of Legislation" Directorate of the Legal Service.