Multilingual Europe

Kamil Augustyniak

In the very beginning, the European Union was established in order to challenge the politics and economy, to give Europeans a field to cooperate and to unify their nations even on grounds of culture. Through all these years various mechanisms were implemented to clarify and stabilize the situation, no matter what background it had. Surely, Europe experienced a lot of conflicts but thanks to that it learned how to react in certain situations and to what focus its attention the most. Although, currently, the EU is struggling with migrants and the presence of United Kingdom within the Union is questioned, there are some issues which are not being discussed almost at all but seem to be crucial when talking about European integration.

Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

Multilingual Europe

Europe of multitude of languages is both advantage and disadvantage. International arena is a place where not only political and economic interests intersect each other but is also a background highlighting cultural differences, especially languages. Hence international communication is difficult on any grounds, dealing with multilingualism is a first challenge of all international organizations gathering entities which speak in different languages. This is why, in order to ensure good communication within its structures, some languages are established to be official and to which all the documents, declarations or agreements are being translated. The bigger the organization is, the demand for smooth communication increases.

EU likes every language

Although the European Union does not outstand by its size among the organizations all over the world, its multilingualism policy is much more complex than any other. Along with expansion of the Communities (later the European Union) specific regulation was amended by adding a new official languages of the member states joining the Union. Starting from one official language (French), the list of them expanded to reach 24 in 2013 after last accession of Croatia. The language system of the European Union has very deep foundations based on principle preserving national identity of all member states. One of the most important act concerning this issue is EU Charter of Fundamental Rights – art. 22:

“The Union shall respect cultural, religious and linguistic diversity.”

European Union law…Droit de l’Union européenne…Europarecht…Prawo Unii Europejskiej

Source: artelis.pl

Source: artelis.pl

Since the complexity of the rule mentioned above is crucial to preserve proper European integration, the most important goal to protect linguistic diversity is to ensure the availability of EU law to all citizens. For this reason, each EU institution has created departments dealing with language translations and 24 sections consisting of interpreters translating acts of the European Union. All official versions of documents are considered to be equivalent and authentic. What is more, every EU citizen has the right to send petitions, to address the institutions and bodies and even to obtain a reply in their own language. This right is guaranteed under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – art. 20:

Citizens of the Union shall enjoy the rights and be subject to the duties provided for in the Treaties. They shall have, inter alia: (…) (d) the right to petition the European Parliament, to apply to the European Ombudsman, and to address the institutions and advisory bodies of the Union in any of the Treaty languages and to obtain a reply in the same language. (…).

At this point the EU successes since it united in diversity. However, with so many languages and texts, it is easy to notice the danger which the EU has to face with when implementing its innovative linguistic pluralism policy. Multiple translations rise a further risk of not presenting the correct content of the message (sometimes it is a translation of a translation). Therefore, it causes some logistic and financial issues and then all these infringements can have serious consequences, e.g. conflict between member states or inconsistent application of EU law.

For what?

The Union seeks to facilitate crossing language barriers for delegates and representatives of member states, barriers that could limit full and comprehensive participation in the work of EU institutions. This is achieved by simultaneous translations which are especially important during plenary sessions of the Parliament, during which there are 800-1000 interpreters translating the text from original language into their natives. However, taking into account constraints of time and money, translation of all documents to all working languages is impossible. Therefore, the most commonly used are English, French and German.

To sum up, linguistic diversity is one of the factors that undoubtedly distinguishes the European Union but also brings many difficulties when speaking about its practical use. Since there are more than 500 language combinations within the EU working languages and all of these translations have to be done, sometimes the translated versions are not completely identical and, consequently, bring many legal issues in the process of further implementation.

Check out interesting case-law related to linguistic diversity in the European Union:

Case T‑185/05: http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=68778&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=936026

 

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Reklamy

The Incessant Spanish Political Crisis

Barbara Zak

Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy (photo: JUAN MEDINA/REUTERS)

Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy (photo: JUAN MEDINA/REUTERS)

Since the last parliamentary elections, Spain has been suffering from an institutional impasse as the leader of the winning party People’ Party (Partido Popular – PP), Mariano Rajoy, turned down king Felipe VI’s offer to form a new government. He explained his decision by stating that he does not have the absolute majority in the parliament but rather a majority of negative votes that would be against any of his proposed list of a government. As a result, the leader of the second placed party Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Español – PSOE), Pedro Sánchez, was asked by the king to form a new government instead of Rajoy. However, as the PSOE party neither has the absolute majority, negotiations with other parties are necessary. Thus its leader asked for a period of a month before handing over his list of the ministers. In order to fully understand the actual political situation in Spain, we should focus on the results of the previous parliamentary elections.

 

Summary of the 2015 parliamentary elections’ results

Source: BBC (http://ichef-1.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/05C9/production/_87318410_spain_elections_v2.png)

Source: BBC

On the 20th of December of 2015, the results of the parliamentary elections have revealed the end of the two-party system that was well-established as the seats have been shared between four parties. The party with the most votes casted was the right-wing and conservative People’s Party with Mariano Rajoy as their leader (who was the previous head of the government). They earned 28.7% votes and 123 seats won in the Congress of Deputies. The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party was the second party to have the most votes casted : 22% with 90 seats earned. The third party that received 20.7% and 69 seats was the left-wing party created in 2014 Podemos (translated from Spanish as „We can”), with Pablo Iglesias Turrión as their leader. The 2015 parliamentary elections were their very first election. The fourth party that earned a decent number of votes is the centre-right party C’s which stands for Ciudadanos (translated into English as „Citizens”). They won 40 seats with 13.9% of the votes. The parties that arrive in fifth and sixth places are Catalan nationalist parties : Republican Left of Catalonia (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya – ERC) and Democracy and Freedom (Democràcia i Libertat – DiL). They have earned less than 3% out of all of the votes. This considerable split of the votes has a consequence : no party has the absolute majority, that is to say none of them have received at least 176 seats (half of 350 seats plus one seat).

 

The necessity to find an agreement through negotiations

Pedro Sánchez (Photograph: Pedro Armestre/AFP/Getty Images)

Pedro Sánchez (Photograph: Pedro Armestre/AFP/Getty Images)

Even though the PP has won the highest number of votes and thus the possibility to form a government, no other party wishes to form a coalition with it since it is said to be utterly corrupted. This led to Rajoy’s refusal to form a government. As a result, we could say that the fate of the political issues is now in Sánchez’s hands. However, it is not the case because even if he forms a coalition with one of the young parties Podemos or C’s, they would still not have the absolute majority. Sánchez could count on a coalition with the socialist electoral alliance Popular Unity (Unidad Popular), but they have only won two seats in the Congress of the Deputies – hence the necessity to have a coalition PSOE-Podemos-C’s. However, the problem is that these parties have different opinions concerning the Catalan independence. Basically, Podemos is in favour of organizing a referendum concerning the independence in this region, unlike C’s. Yet Sánchez does not seem to want to surrender as he may intend to have a consent regarding the fight against unemployment, social inequality and corruption, and he might propose a constitutional reform to move towards a federal state in order to regulate the Catalan issue. On the other hand, if Sánchez plans to leave C’s out of its negotiations and rather have a left-wing coalition PSOE-Podemos-Popular Unity, which would be more plausible and feasible, they would still not have the absolute majority. In the end, they would need the votes of the Catalan nationalist parties to be added to their votes, which would request the independence of Catalonia. But these are only suppositions – at this time of the year, we cannot make clear statements.

The transition from a two-party system to a multi-party system illustrates the lack of trust of the Spanish people towards the long-standing parties as they cast their vote for recently created parties. This switching means that the people have no longer put their faith in the „incompetent” politicians of the well-established parties but rather in young political parties, with leaders showing their will and vigour to change the country, yet without the experience of the political field. This political crisis is the inevitable consequence of the economic crisis that has affected Spain since 2008.

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SOURCES

The United Kingdom:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35147266

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/22/spanish-prime-minister-rajoy-kings-petition-new-government

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/02/spains-king-picks-socialist-chief-to-try-to-form-government

 

France:

http://www.lefigaro.fr/international/2015/12/20/01003-20151220ARTFIG00156-espagne-rajoy-face-au-casse-tete-des-alliances.php

http://www.lefigaro.fr/international/2016/01/22/01003-20160122ARTFIG00394-espagne-rajoy-renonce-a-former-un-gouvernement-pour-l-instant.php

http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2016/02/03/en-espagne-les-socialistes-vont-essayer-de-former-un-gouvernement_4858287_3214.html

 

Spain:

http://politica.elpais.com/politica/2016/02/02/actualidad/1454437134_638707.html?rel=lom

http://www.thelocal.es/20151223/spains-socialist-refuse-to-back-rajoy-bid-to-form-new-government

http://www.elcorreo.com/bizkaia/politica/201602/05/pablo-iglesias-ofrecera-apoyo-20160205024739-rc.html?ns_campaign=noticias-relacionadas&ns_mchannel=bottom&ns_source=politica&ns_linkname=noticia&ns_fee=0

Press Review

Maria Moroniak

Dutch Presidency

PM of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte (source: European Council/Flickr)

PM of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte (source: European Council/Flickr)

The Netherlands will be holding Presidency of the Council of the European Union from 1 January to 30 June 2016. What does it mean that the leader wants to put a spotlight at essentials, quality, labour market, growth, and improvement of communication between Brussels headquarters and ordinary people? Check it out here: http://www.euwatcher.eu/blog/looking-ahead-the-dutch-eu-presidency-in-2016/

source: EU Watcher

Schengen zone to be suspended?

Due to massive migration there appeared voices saying European borderless union interferes in common security. Despite the internal unrest in Europe there is no approval for limiting European freedom. For more information watch the brief interview with Ben Homan, the mayor of the town of Schengen: http://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2016/01/27/schengen-intv-amanpour-ben-homan.cnn/video/playlists/amanpour/

source: CNN

Fighting for the better future

On 12th of December a historical move towards healthier environment was made. 195 countries, including European Union member states representatives, signed a climate agreement which is supposed to limit global warming below 2 Celsius degrees. Various steps are going to be made to fulfill the commitment. Read more: europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-6308_en.htm

source: European Commission

Cameron’s remedy dismissed

David Cameron and Martin Schulz (source: i.guim.co.uk/Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

David Cameron and Martin Schulz (source: i.guim.co.uk/Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s idea of coping with wave of immigrants got a cool reception during the talks in Brussels. He wants Great Britain to reward legally employed immigrants with income supplements to prevent rewarding them for nothing with social benefits. What’s more, he refused coming to a compromise after being offered a plan of possible “emergency break”. Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-35434125

source: BBC

Royal affair

This is a landmark in modern Spain history. Its princess, the sister of King Felipe VI, was put on trial since she has been made official suspect of silent collaboration of her husband’s corruption cases. Despite the evidence, she claims of not being involved in the money laundering. To read more visit: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26047722 or http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35255536

source: BBC

Beware of the boss

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg announced that employers have right to read their employees’ private messages sent within working hours. The Court took care of the case when Bogdan Barbulescu, Romanian worker, sued its employer for disturbing his correspondence confidence when discovered that he uses his Yahoo Messenger for both private and business contacts. The man claims that it was made contrary to his right to respect for his private life and to his correspondence. Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-35301148

source: BBC

Je suis no longer Charlie

On 7th of January president François Hollande led a ceremony commemorating 17 victims of terrorist attack on French satiric magazine Charlie Hebdo from January 2015. Due to the current situation and threat of terrorism in everyday life, thousands of people were expected to come and show their disapproval for violence in Europe. In spite of the fact there were 1,5 million people marching through streets and squares in Paris shortly after the attack in 2015, very few have shown up on the brief celebration in 2016. Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/12091810/Charlie-Hebdo-anniversary-Subdued-ceremony-draws-smaller-crowd-than-expected.html

source: The Telegraph

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Source: UN

Source: UN

Every year 27th of January is worldwide celebrated as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day to pay tribute to all who lost their lives in this genocide. The choice of this date was not accidental. In 1945, on 27th January Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Red Army. To get familiar with the meaning of the Remembrance Day and to listen to the testimonies of the survivors visit this site: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/events/prizes-and-celebrations/celebrations/international-days/commemoration-in-memory-of-the-victims-of-the-holocaust-2016/

source: UNESCO