Linguistic obstacles to common European Union action are overcome by a system of official languages (currently 11) for translation of official texts and interpretation at meetings. In practice, flexibility in language use is frequently required. Here, political tensions arise because of the onward march of English as a language of European Union dialogue; some Member States feel the status of their language is being threatened. In this context, education, culture and other programmes having language provisions can have a compensatory role: their multilingual approach reinforces the cohesion of the Union. Their significance will be even greater if enlargement brings 11 further languages into the Union.
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