Dominant languages in Europe

In earlier times the dominant languages on the European continent were Latin and French (cf. Loonen 1996). Latin was mainly used by the church and scholars, and rapidly decreased in importance after 1800. French, which took over the role of Latin as a Language of Wider Communication at the beginning of the 18th century, was necessary for any educated European citizen; it was also the language of diplomacy. The influence of French on other languages was immense. However, similar to Latin, French belonged to an educated minority; the vast majority of the people in Europe were not able to speak or understand French. This condition prevailed throughout much of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and even into the first half of this century. Only after World War II did English begin to assume the leading role as a Language of Wider Communication in Europe. There are differences, however, between the three languages: whereas French and Latin were mainly confined to the European context and only had minor significance on a world-wide level, the importance of English was primarily established outside of Europe. Moreover, English is not only a language of scholars, priests or a social elite (in terms of access to education), but it is used by everyone, young and old, rich and poor, etc. The importance of English in the multicultural and multilingual setting of Europe seems to be indisputable and likely to increase. Today there are some 59,000,000 native speakers of English in Europe; and yet, English is only third after Russian (100,000,000) and German (91,000,000). English is only one of 67 'living' languages in Europe (Fischer Weltalmanach 1994: 887). Even though the number of native speakers of languages such as Russian and German outnumbers English by far, it is accepted that English is the most important language of communication in Europe. This is not because there are two countries in Europe where English is the official language (the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland), but it is due to the fact that English is the international language of communication in the world. It is generally agreed that since the establishment of the British Empire, but to a much higher extent since the end of World War II, there has been an important spread of English world-wide. English is now acquired in every part of the world in compulsory school programmes and through voluntary TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) courses; many languages also freely 'borrow' from English. What has just been said about the world-wide spread of English is also true for the smaller entity of the European continent. In her article "English in the European Union" Margie Berns states that "87% of European school age children stud[y] English as their first foreign language" (Berns 1991: 7). English is not only omnipresent in classrooms; the average citizen in Europe is in constant contact with English through electronic and print media. This should be proof enough to state that English is the prevailing language actively and passively available to Europeans, even though the proportion of native speakers is not that great. How come, that a language which is spoken (as a mother tongue) by less than a seventh of the overall population of Europe is so widely spread and used? What are the incentives and inducements to learn English and to use it? According to Flaitz "it appears that no single factor determines the fate of a potential lingua franca, but that a number of elements, occurring together as a composite and constantly changing, influence the course of a spreading language" (1988: 30). There are a number of such elements that influence the spread of English as the international language of communication. The following list states only a few elements and does not claim to be comprehensive; I will point out their significant relevance to the European setting: Lieberson points out that one major force behind the expansion of English as a commercial language during the post-World War II period was the change in the intensity and nature of commercial interaction (1982: 44). The 'Marshall Plan' as a starting point for the strong commercial links of the United States with Europe must be seen in this respect. The commercial involvement of the USA in Europe has increased enormously since 1947 and made it necessary for a lot of people to be able to speak and understand English. In 1948 the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEED) was founded to be a European organisation, with the highly influential membership of the USA. The decisive role of mainly English-speaking forces in the termination of the Second World War and the fact that a large number of English speaking soldiers were based in Europe for a long time must not be underestimated. Furthermore, the American involvement in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), with its headquarters in Brussels, has influenced the use of English in Europe. According to Grabe (1988), the important role of English in information access and technology transfer is one more explanation for the rise of this language world-wide. The rapid increase of scientific discoveries in the USA, combined with the increasingly rapid exchange of information world-wide, and the fast development of the computer, made English the source language for information storage and retrieval. The special significance in terms of Europe arises again from the American involvement in Europe just after World War II. By the end of the Second World War, the USA was the only major industrialised country undamaged by the war. The technology transfer to Europe was immense in order to build up a devastated Europe as quickly as possible; nowadays English is necessary for any country wishing to modernise and develop a scientific and industrial technology which will be competitive on world markets. Scientific publications in Europe are to a vast extent published in English (cf. Ammon 1994). "English is the most frequently used language of films in Europe" (Ammon 1994: 1). In many European countries (especially in the Nordic countries and the Netherlands), films are shown on TV in their original language (primarily English) with or without sub-titles. Furthermore, the system of two-channel reception enables the viewer to listen to the original version instead of a dubbed one. The ordinary European TV viewer is in a position to watch at least seven all-English channels, coming in through cable or personal satellite dishes. The role of the USA regarding the production and distribution of films is unchallenged. The example of films is impressive. Films, however, are only one carrier of culture. There is a strong correlation between language and culture. "[T]he dominance of one language thus of necessity brings with it dominance of its culture" (Loonen 1996: 7), and vice versa. Other carriers of specific culture and therefore a specific language are literature, entertainment (such as music, computer games, shows, sports, clothing, foods, etc.) computer software, advertisements, etc. The dominant influence of the USA in the fields just mentioned is undisputed. As a result, "[t]his cultural component has penetrated so deeply into our everyday lives that Anglo-Saxon attitudes act as the accepted norms or at least as serious terms of reference" (Loonen 1996: 7). Those accepted norms or terms of reference are linked to the English language. The special relevance for Europe does not have to be emphasised. There has been an enormous increase in mobility over the last 15 years. In this respect Europeans are privileged (compared to other regions in the world) simply due to the fact that the standard of living is rather high. Europeans tend to spend more and more of their spare time (weekends and holidays) abroad. Thus Europeans have contact with native and non-native speakers through face-to-face encounters while travelling and vacationing abroad, or meeting visitors and foreign residents in their home countries. Opportunities to use English in business and professional settings, as well as social events are abundant. The list could easily be expanded; it shows that a major factor for the spread of English is the close link between the English language and the 'American way of life'. The leading position of the United States of America in politics, economy, science and culture since World War II has undoubtedly contributed to the expansion of the use of English in the world in general and in Europe in particular. It is important to note here that the wide-spread use of English in Europe is not a result of the strong influence of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland; these two countries help to increase the use of English by the fact that they offer an opportunity for non-native speakers to communicate with native speakers in the European setting, and make a contribution to the cultural component of the language spread. More and more countries are making English a Language of Wider Communication in order to communicate with the rest of the world and not just with the native English-speaking world. This is also the case within the boundaries of the European continent. Functionally English has evolved from an ethnocentric tongue to a language of convenience that can be used in many fields. Because of its multiple functions in international contexts, it has taken on an extraterritorial status and is no longer associated with Britain and its empire, but rather with science, technology, trade and business. What has been said so far gives the impression that there is only one language left in Europe which can claim to be a Language of Wider Communication. It is true, though, that we are facing the situation today that "English has combined the former roles of Latin (for scholarship) and French (for an educated minority) with a few other roles as well (for trade, teenagers and travellers), contributing in this way to an unprecedented degree of converging norms and values" (Loonen 1996: 7). However, Joshua A. Fishman points out in his article "English Only" in Europe? that English is not the only Language of Wider Communication in Europe (Fishman 1994). He identifies three regions in Europe where there is a high probability of coming across another language as Language of Wider Communication. The Scandinavian countries are likely, according to his observation, to use German instead of English as a "desideratum in the business community" (Fishman 1994: 68). My personal experience is that one should not only look at the Scandinavian countries but also include countries such as Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. The historically determined high status of German (even though in some cases German is 'weighed down' with the Nazi legacy) and the strong economic inducements coming out of Germany form two effective elements for that region to place "knowledge of German ahead of knowledge of English" (Fishman 1994: 68). A second European region has to be mentioned here. Wherever Stalin used to be in control, from the Baltic states to the Caucasus Mountains, from Poland to Kazakhstan, the German language experiences a renaissance of an astounding degree. The number of people learning German in this part of Europe is rising by 200,000 learners a year (Santner 1995). The possibility for German to acquire the status of a regional Language of Wider Communication is very high in the former Eastern Bloc States and the Community of Independent States. Global betrachtet, so eine sorgfältige Schätzung des Auswärtigen Amtes in Bonn, plagen sich derzeit 20 Millionen Menschen mit einem mehr oder minder intensiven Deutschstudium ab. Zwei Drittel davon sitzen in den Nachlassländern des zerfallenen Kreml-Imperiums. Rund 11,4 Millionen Schüler im Primär- und Sekundärbereich haben sich dort für Deutsch als (meistens erste) Fremdsprache entschieden. Dazu kommen zwei Millionen Erwachsene, die ihre deutschen Sprachkenntnisse ausserschulisch zu verbessern trachten. (....) Auf Dauer wird das Duell mit English natürlich auch im Osten nicht zu gewinnen sein. Den 11,4 Millionen Deutsch-Schülern stehen schon jetzt 21,2 Millionen Englisch-Pauker gegenüber (zum Vergleich: 1992 waren es erst 18,6 Millionen). Doch immerhin, in einigen Staaten - in Tschechien, der Slowakei, Ungarn, Kasachstan und Georgien - ist Deutsch die erste Wahl. Nahezu überall sonst behauptet es sich als zweite westliche Fremdsprache - so etwa in Russland (4,3 Millionen Deutsch-Schüler), in der Ukraine (850 000), in Polen (1,7 Millionen), Weissrussland (257 000), Usbekistan (909 000), Litauen (91 000), Tadschikistan (270 000). Da kann das Französische mit insgesamt 6,7 Millionen nicht annähernd mithalten. (Santner 1995: 4)

The figures show that beside English it is difficult for another language to gain independent status as an international language of communication. A 'niche' is to be sought in the regions of Europe rather than competing with English on a wider scale. The figures also show that only German has a real chance of gaining a certain significance as a Language of Wider Communication, yet only in parts of Europe. French, however, is far behind. It only enjoys a higher status in Romania, where there are more than two million learners of French, and in Bulgaria, where it is far behind English, yet preceding German (Santner 1995). Apart from those two Eastern European countries French is still prevailing "among middle-aged functionaries and intellectuals" (Fishman 1995: 68) in Spain and Italy. Furthermore, French is certainly the strong language of communication in certain European sub-regions and in communication between those sub-regions and larger European institutions such as the European Union and the Council of Europe. There is hardly any interest in this language due to a lack of cultural and economic incentives. "French is 'built in' and well protected in the former French colonial world but, outside of Canada and its French immersion efforts, it has no headway, at best (and has fallen back somewhat, at worst) elsewhere, in comparison to either English or German" (Fishman 1994: 70f). Russian has lost its usefulness due to its 'hegemonial past' as the language of the communist oppressor. Even though there is still a vast majority of people in former Eastern Bloc countries who speak and understand the Russian language, it is not chosen as a language of communication any longer. However, some linguists predict that the Russian language will again assume the role of a regional language of communication in the future, depending on the unification process in Europe and the economic situation in the former Eastern Bloc states and the Community of Independent States (cf. Domaschnew 1994 and Haarmann 1991). Spanish has no significance in the European setting, but is in strong competition with English on a world-wide level. German, as has been shown, is gaining in significance in certain parts of Europe; its usefulness outside Europe is very limited. French is still strong in Europe due to the fact that there are many European countries where it is a national (official) language. The growth of English as an international language of communication cannot be stopped or even slowed down; this is even more so since English mother-tongue countries are extremely hard to communicate with satisfactorily in any language other than English. This is the case in Europe just as in the rest of the world.

Dominant languages in the European Union

Official policy versus actual use The language situation of the European Union or other supranational institutions in Europe is far better researched and analysed than the general situation in Europe as a continent. Thus in view of the language use in international non-governmental youth organisations in Europe, also European institutions themselves, the relevance of the language situation of the European Union might shed some light on the difficulties and possible solutions regarding language use in multicultural and multilingual contexts. In the process of formulating a language policy for an international organisation, a common denominator for all the differing interests of the individual members (in the case of the European Union the members are states) is not easy to find. Most international organisations have historical roots and/or practical reasons which account for the language policy chosen. The problem for the European Union and its language policy is its size. The European Union now has 15 member states. Based on Article 217 of the Treaty of Rome of 1957 the then Council of the European Community adopted the following regulation: Article 1 The official languages and the working languages of the institutions of the Community shall be Dutch, French, German and Italian. (Coulmas 1991a: 38)

This article has been supplemented with every new accession to the Community, so that at present the official languages of the European Union are (in alphabetical order): Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish. In practice, this means that every new member state has been granted the right to determine a language (or, as the case of Belgium shows, even two languages) to be used in official communication between that member state and the European Union. This also means, however, that an organisation which has set itself the aim to unite Europe on different levels (politically, economically, regarding security, etc.), is still proclaiming diversity with regard to languages. This has serious effects on the day-to-day work of the various bodies of the huge organisation. The translation and interpretation services take up a large proportion of the budget of the European Union; moreover, the new language combinations after accepting Finland and Sweden make it very difficult for those services to guarantee translation and interpretation. Facing further expansion before the turn of the century or early in the next century, the situation might get out of hand. These basic facts already make it obvious that the current policy must be reviewed in order to cut down costs and reach a feasible and acceptable solution. The following short overview on the actual language use in the European Union will show to what extent an unofficial use of languages has established itself, which is not compatible with the official (legal) policy. To come to the point, the results just give fresh impetus to the demand for re-considering the present policy. A first unofficial restriction of the language use within the bodies of the European Union was that, by common consent, only English, French and German are considered to be working languages: Somit sind zwar nicht alle Sprachen der Mitgliedstaaten, aber - zumindest dem Buchstaben nach - alle neun Amtssprachen der Europäischen Gemeinschaft gleichberechtigt. Aber auch dies erfährt sofort eine Einschränkung, denn zur Erleichterung des täglichen Arbeitsablaufs in der neunsprachigen Behörde wurden in der Zwischenzeit drei der EG-Sprachen, nämlich das Deutsche, das Englische und das Französische in den Rang sogenannter "Arbeitssprachen" erhoben. Sie sind bezüglich der Zahl ihrer muttersprachlichen Sprecher die "grössten" Sprachen innerhalb der EG. Diese Regelung wurde aber niemals schriftlich festgehalten; vielmehr hat sie sich informell eingespielt und ist bis heute kaum hinterfragt worden. (Haselhuber 1991: 38f) The argument that the three languages chosen for actual day-to-day communication are the 'strongest' languages within the European Union already shows where the difficulties are for a discussion on changing the present language policy of the Union. Is it simply a question of number of mother tongue speakers? This problem will be tackled below. According to Schlossmacher's survey the civil servants of the European Union use French far more often than English in their communication. The use of German is far behind, yet still much higher than of any other official language of the organisation (1994: 108ff). Schlossmacher investigated the "Sprachgebrauch insgesamt" of the civil servants. If one considers the detailed results the picture only differs between internal and external communication, i.e. communication within the bureaucracy, between the bureaucracy and the member states, on the one hand, and communication between the European Union and non-European Union states, on the other hand. Communication between the bodies of the European Union and its member states is still dominated by French, though the gap between the percentage of French and English has decreased. A role reversal takes place when it comes to external communication; English supersedes French by far. Zusammenfassend ist festzustellen, dass unter den Beamten der EG-Organe Französisch mit je nach Situation mehr oder minder klarem Abstand vor Englisch gebraucht wird. Erst wenn die Kommunikation über die Europäische Gemeinschaft hinausgeht, erfolgt ein Wechsel in der Sprachwahl. Englisch führt dann mit weitem Vorsprung vor Französisch (...). (...) Französisch ist die führende Weltsprache für den Gebrauch in den Organen der Europäischen Gemeinschaft, Englisch aber die Weltsprache für den Gebrauch in der Welt. (1994: 109) Schlossmacher also points out that members of the European parliament use English more often than French in their oral communication during sessions; once they have to talk to the people in the administration French comes first, and English only second. These results are also supported by the findings of Haselhuber (1991). He investigated the use of languages in the administration of the European Union among a very specific group of people: trainees working for one of the 23 executive boards of the European Commission for a period of five months; the average age of the trainees was 25 (Haselhuber 1991: 39). One of his results is the fact that communication between the trainee and his/her respective superior is predominantly conducted in French, and only to a lesser extent in English; the language is determined by the superior. Moreover, the survey shows that communication within the European Commission is primarily conducted in French. Among many other questions the trainees were asked to list the most important languages within the European Union and world-wide: [Die] Zahlen zeigen eine klare Rangfolge in der Bedeutung auf, die den "wichtigeren" EG-Sprachen von der jungen Generation zugesprochen wird: Englisch - Französisch - Deutsch - Spanisch - Italienisch. Zur weltweiten Rangfolge der Sprache: Hier ergaben sich für Englisch 108 Nennungen (von 120), Spanisch 87, Französisch 68, Deutsch 28, Russisch 17, Japanisch 12, Chinesisch 10, Italienisch 8, Portugiesisch 4 und Arabisch 3. Hindi wurde ein einziges Mal genannt, Latein und Esperanto verzeichneten keine Nennungen. Das Ergebnis zeigt, dass die Einschätzung der Praktikanten zur Bedeutung einer Sprache weniger auf der Zahl der Muttersprachler beruht, sondern vielmehr auf ihrer Bedeutung als Zweitsprache, d.h. als Sprache für die internationale Kommunikation. (1991: 45) The three most important languages for Europe as well as the European Union seem to be English, French and German; the only difference between the organisation and the international setting is the hierarchy. The results mentioned shed an interesting light on the language preference of young people in today's Europe. German once again is superseded by Spanish in the world-wide context. The younger generation clearly gives priority to English over French and German, whereas the older generation, represented by the civil servants of the European Union, still prefers French to English. These results will be confirmed by the analysis of the language use in international youth organisations in Europe. A similar situation has been observed with regard to written communication within the European Union as to that with regard to the oral use of languages. It is important to note (...) dass auch in der schriftlichen Kommunikation der Beamten innerhalb der EG-Organe Französisch mit weitem Abstand, der sich gegenüber den Werten für die mündliche Kommunikation noch erhöht, vor Englisch liegt. Je mehr die Kommunikation sich aber aus den EG-Organen verlagert, verändern sich auch hier die Anteile, bis Englisch schliesslich wiederum, analog zur mündlichen Funktion Arbeitssprache mit Nicht-EG-Staaten, weit vor Französisch liegt. Alle anderen Sprachen, einschliesslich Deutsch, spielen schriftlich eine noch ge-ringere Rolle als mündlich. (Schlossmacher 1994: 112)

It has become overt by what has been said so far about the language use within the administration and beyond the membership of the European Union, that the unofficial arrangement of the European Commission to treat three out of the eleven official languages as 'more official' than the others, has become a reality. European Union officials and linguists generally agree that this arrangement - which primarily favours English and French - has so far proved to be efficient. More than three working languages would disturb the sequence of operations considerably. The question as to how many languages the European Commission's administration ought to work with (also with regard to further accessions to the European Union) is an aspect which is under serious debate at the moment. While the present situation seems to offer a workable solution, the struggle between those three languages, or, respectively, their lobbyists, is remaining intense. The struggle between languages is not just a conflict of different cultural and ideological values, neither is it just a struggle because of political vanities or nationalistic prestige. The tangible economic interests seem to be far more important (cf. Coulmas 1991).


Whatever the official language policy of the European Union, and despite the fact that there already is an unofficial restriction to only three working languages, the fact remains that the main question under discussion - at least among linguists - is whether the present system of multilingualism, be it eleven, three or any other number of languages, should continue into the next century, or whether there should be a radical change towards monolingualism. However, the crux is that the arguments for or against one or the other cannot easily be compared; they are on different levels as the following short outline will prove. The case for multilingualism is supported by two lines of argument: 1) based on ideology and culture, and 2) based on the political realities in Europe. The aim is to maintain the present regulation in order to reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity of Europe in the organisation itself. Moreover, the notion of equality within Europe and therefore within the European Union must be maintained in spite of all the differences in economic strength and size of population. A united Europe still consists of a multitude of different cultures and values. The following two statements are very much to the point and serve to illustrate the ideology- and culture-based line of argument: Die Sprachenfrage rührt an die Wurzeln der Europäischen Gemeinschaft. Sprache ist Teil der nationalen und persönlichen Identität, und die europäischen Sprachen sind Teil des immensen kulturellen Erbes dieses Kontinentes. Bei weiterem Wachstum nehmen zwar die praktischen Schwierigkeiten zu, den Sprachen aller ihrer Mitglieder gebührenden Respekt zu zollen, aber jede Lösung, die das außer acht ließe, würde an den Grundlagen der Gemeinschaftskonzepts rütteln. (Volz 1994: 99) Mehr als 400 Jahre Sprachenpolitik und Sprachenstreit in Europa: Da sind ganze Regionen mit ihren Sprachen hispanisiert, französisiert, germanisiert, anglisiert oder russifiziert worden. Die Spätfolge solcher Politik werden in den zahlreichen regionalen Konflikten deutlich, die die west- (und ost-)europäische Stabilität stören. Sie alle haben ihre sprachenpolitische Komponente. Der Schluss, dass eine konsequente Regionalisierung nach ethnischen Gesichtspunkten der einzig sinnvolle Ansatz zu einer langfristigen europäischen Einigung sei, liegt nahe. Ein sprachlich und kulturpolitisch zentralverwaltetes Europa ist nicht realisierbar; würde es realisiert, so wäre es ein bürgerkriegsanfälliges Gebilde. (Schröder 1981: 64 in Domaschnew 1994: 41) Of course, the two statements are not the most representative statements to be found regarding the case for multilingualism. However, they serve to show how passionate such ideological, historical and cultural arguments can be. Whether or not the picture of Europe presented above corresponds to reality is not important in the present context. Those who speak strongly in favour of the multilingual policy of the European Union tend to neglect the practical implications of their favourite policy on the administration of such a huge organisation. Even though they briefly touch upon the problem they do not actually consider it. Upholding the cultural and linguistic diversity is in many cases an obstacle to the much needed discussion in this area given the financial and practical problems of the European Union administration caused by the current language policy. The second line of argument is the political reality within the European Union. Decisions which have a major impact on the Union and its future have to be taken unanimously in the Council of Ministers. Thus any decision which might bring about a change to the current language policy would have to be welcomed and finally agreed upon by all the member states. Any move away from multilingualism and the principle of equality of all the languages of the member states is unlikely to be accepted. This perception is a very realistic one. The revision of the language use would be equal to a shift from the democratic to the presidential principle, with the effect to assign to one language only the presidential role, and this role would be permanent and exclusive. (....) Anyone familiar with the processes of decision-making in the EC political theater is aware that there are no realistic chances of receiving the unanimous support of the member states for such a project. (...) For one reason or another, unanimity in this matter among the European politicians is far from the reality of what can be expected. (Haarmann 1991: 20) Schlossmacher's results show exactly the same: Die Einführung offizieller Arbeitssprachen wäre eine politische Entscheidung, die nicht von den hier befragten Beamten getroffen würde, sondern von den Politikern, die dazu die EG-Verträge ändern müssten. Allerdings zeigen die Befragungsergebnisse, dass sich wohl seitens der Beamten gegen eine Arbeits-sprachenregelung kaum Widerstand regen würde, während sie gegen die Mehr-heit der Abgeordneten wohl nicht durchzusetzen wäre. (1994: 119) Schlossmacher's conclusion also shows that for those working in the administration of the European Union the practicability becomes the focus of attention; the politicians, however, give the violation of the principle of equality special emphasis. The three languages English, French and German are definitely 'more equal' than the remaining eight. Upholding the 'illusion' of eleven official (and therefore egalitarian) languages also means avoiding a major confrontation on the level of the decision making bodies in the European Union. The politicians obviously have enough conflicting issues on their European agenda already. The maintenance of the status quo in the language policy of the European Union is considered desirable by many parties involved for many different reasons. However, they all use the two major arguments mentioned above in order to secure their own interests, which in many cases are a mere excuse for other more 'selfish' reasons. The arguments in favour of the principle of multilingualism are often on a rather philosophical (and therefore sometimes rather passionate) level, the focus of attention against multilingualism is more on a practical level. The effects a multilingual policy has on the daily work of the administration and the translation and interpretation services are the main concern of the advocates and lobbyists who promote a selective multilingualism or even monolingualism. One of the effects are the exorbitantly expensive costs of the translation and interpretation services. Another effect is the fact that translations are not available on time, and therefore meetings have to be cancelled and decisions, taken earlier, cannot be implemented (cf. Coulmas 1991). In view of a further enlargement of the Union in the not-too-distant future the current language policy will become almost impracticable. Thus "it is becoming clear that, within the scope of the European Union, a line needs to be drawn somewhere" (Smith 1996: 10). That such a line must be drawn, already seems to be well acknowledged within the administration due to the fact that only three working languages are being used, unofficially. One of the solutions put forward is the one by Haarmann. He calls his proposal for the future language policy of the European Union "selective monolingualism" (1991: 19ff). He argues that it would be practical to "promote the idea of administrative monolingualism", however, "there are no political chances for its implementation" (1991: 20). Therefore he suggests a reduction from eleven (or whatever number of official languages there might be in the future) down to three. For him it is clear that there are only three languages which could step in as feasible working languages for internal use within the European Union, i.e. English, French and German. They "would cover all regions of western and central Europe in general and specialised official functions" (1991: 21f). As soon as communications spread beyond the European continent, he suggests replacing German with Spanish. "English and French would become stable components in internal and external EC affairs. German would be assigned the role of an internal official language, while Spanish would function as an external official language of the EC bodies" (1991: 22). As a result of Haarmann's proposal all the other official languages of the European Union would lose their official status. Smith considers a reduction from eleven official languages down to five (English, German, French, Italian and Spanish) or even less. "If a mere pruning job is to be done" the selection criterion could be "based solely on the number of speakers of each language within the EU" (1996: 11). However the problem would be that a language repertoire of five would still entail high costs and a 'slow' bureaucracy. Thus a further reduction down to three languages could be envisaged. However, this would be difficult to justify in the eyes of the Spaniards and the Italians. Even five languages would entail the harsh criticism of the small member states of the Union, whose languages were left out right from the start. His conclusion thus is that "[i]n terms purely of logic and expediency, the argument in favour of a single language is difficult to oppose"; "(...) if a reduction is required, why not go the whole way and have just one language" (1996: 11)? Since he does not see any chance for an artificial language, be it an already existing one or one that still has to be invented, he strongly recommends opting for English as the only official language of the European Union. This is of course a radical solution. The arguments which speak in favour of choosing English are those which have already been listed earlier in this section, e.g. number of native speakers in Europe, Language of Wider Communication, prevailing second language in Europe, economic reasons, etc. It is important for Smith to state that "English is not better than any other language, either within the EU or outside" (1996: 12). In his article he also anticipates much of the criticism such a radical proposal would entail: he is quick in giving an answer to all of them. However, all the counter-arguments he mentions himself lack the dimension of the ideological, cultural or political aspects; his main argument is that in view of the "European Union's current policy of enlargement", "action (...) will become an absolute necessity" (1996: 14). The proposals as to how to deal with the language problems of such an organisation are only a small selection out of many. The solutions presented above have shown that the extreme positions almost make a factual and matter-of-fact discussion almost impossible. There are many obstacles to overcome on the way to a new language policy in the European Union. Since there is a certain reluctance within the decision-making bodies of the European Union to tackle the language problem, it might only be properly addressed and dealt with in the case of a serious impediment of the daily working and decision-making processes by the impracticability of the current language policy, a total communication breakdown, or - last but not least - by the fact that such services can no longer be afforded. The European Union is not the only international organisation which is faced with such language problems. Every international governmental or non-governmental organisation has to make a decision at some point as to which languages are to be the official languages. Furthermore, the choice of language is not the only decision to be made; the question as to whether the chosen languages are to be used in an egalitarian way, or whether some of the languages are to be used exclusively as additional languages into which important documents are translated, has to be considered, too. The situation of the European Union shows that such decisions cannot easily be taken. However, a look at some other international organisations shows that the current official language policy of the European Union is exceptional: The European Free Trade Association (EFTA), for instance, has chosen a monolingual language policy (English is the only official language within the organisation even though - or because - none of the member countries uses English as an official national language.); organisations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) also follow a strict monolingual policy; organisations such as the Council of Europe, World Trade Organisation (WTO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) have chosen a bi- or even multilingual policy. Beside these well known and politically highly influential organisations there are numerous international non-governmental youth organisations. Regarding language, they have to tackle the very same questions and are confronted with similar arguments in discussions about official languages.