Italian prejudices on Europe: the case of the defense of multilingualism

The lack of knowledge of the European Union implies several prejudices that spread without foundation. It is often said that Italy “obeys” Europe or makes a priori choices because “Europe asks for it”. Actually, there are important cases in which Italy has opposed and even won its battle.

One of these cases is the possibility to choose the Italian language in competitions organized by EPSO (European Personnel Selection Office) to work in the institutions of the European Union.
In 2007 some calls were challenged by Italy at the Court of the EU and then at the Court of Justice of the EU as the languages required to pass the competitions for the European institutions were only English, French, and German. The same question arose almost in the same terms a few years later and, even in the latter case, Italy reached the second level of European judgment.
The Court of Justice, after analyzing all the arguments, coming from both the Italian Government and the European Commission, declared the calls of the contest in question annulled as illegitimate. However, the European Court added that it is up to the institutions to decide whether and how to limit the choice of languages.

Subsequently, Italy and Spain challenged, again for the language issue, some calls published in 2013 by EPSO which, despite the Court of Justice had already ruled on the issue, continued to use only English, French, and German both in contests and in communications with all candidates. The General Court ruled that the use of English, French and German only for communication between candidates and the EPSO Office is unlawful because it is contrary to Regulation No 1.

This battle, which lasted 8 years, ensured that Italian – along with all the languages of the countries belonging to the Union – was not discriminated as a language.

Language skills are the focus of the construction of the European Education Area, they are essential for mobility, cooperation, and mutual understanding.
The coexistence of many languages in Europe is a strong symbol of the European Union's aspiration to be united in diversity.