The Italian Almanac

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language battles

Language Battles

Italy won a legal battle against the European Commission over a staff-selection procedure published in English, French and German, but not in Italian or any of the other European Union languages. The European Union's General Court said that a 2007 call for expression of interest (CEI) to candidates wanting to be part of a database for recruitment of contract staff in European institutions should be annulled.

''The publication of that call (EPSO/CAST/EU/27/07), in English, French and German only, constitutes discrimination between potential candidates on the basis of language, contrary to European Union law,'' read the court's ruling. A European Commission spokesman, Michael Mann, said the problem raised by the case has already been solved as CEIs are now published in all 23 official EU languages and the first selection test is always conducted in an applicant's mother tongue.

Italy has launched a number of campaigns in defence of the use of Italian in European Union procedures and documents. The Italian and Spanish governments are currently fighting a battle against EC plans for a new EU-wide patent written in French, English and German. The patent may be pushed though despite Italian and Spanish opposition via the rarely used mechanism of 'enhanced cooperation', as it is supported by 23 of the 27 member states.