EU languagesProbably the most famous of Latin phrases, Descartes philosophical musing (I think, therefore I am or I am thinking, therefore I exist), could perhaps be applied to the European Union.

These interesting articles consider the idea that Latin could be adopted as the official language of the European Union (EU). Comprising of 27 member countries, and working in 23 official languages, the EU currently spends an incredible €1,123 million a year (statistic from 2005) on translating and interpretation. This represents about 1% of the EU’s entire budget. Adding to the complexity is that different EU institutions conduct business in different languages – the European Commission in English, French and German, for example. (Source)

As one translator says:

“It’s not practical if you have to translate the name of an EU program into 23 languages, so if you have a Latin word that can be pronounced in all 23 and means something at the same time, it’s practical,” said Wolfgang Jenniges, a European Commission translator and classical linguist.

Jenniges is referencing is the use of Latin words for some projects and web domain names run by the EU, also mentioned in the article:

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has the domain name “curia” – Latin for “court.” The council of EU member states uses the domain name “consilium,” Latin for “council.”

Both those names are sub-addresses of the EU’s web domain, “europa” – the Latin name for Europe.

EU projects are also being given Latin names. A recent translation contest was called “juvenes translatores” (“young translators”), while the EU has a “Tempus” (“time”) project for upgrading universities outside the bloc.

Classical names are even coming back into fashion for EU military missions. In recent years, the bloc has run operations named Althea, Artemis, Themis and Concordia – the goddesses of healing, hunting, justice and reconciliation.

The Finnish showed their support of Latin during their EU presidency, with sections of the EU website being published in Latin.

So, will we one day see our MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) communicating in Latin? Well, probably not. As their website states, a single official language would cut off most EU citizens from their right to an understanding of what the EU is doing. Plus, the EU is committed to multilingualism, which a single official language would go against.