english only financial regulation June 14, 2013Posted by Bradley in : multilingualism , trackback
Yesterday the EU Ombudsman’s website published a Decision of the European Ombudsman closing his inquiry into complaint 1363/2012/BEH against the European Banking Authority. A German citizen:
submitted a petition to the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament (henceforth the ‘Committee on Petitions’) concerning the use of official languages on the website of the European Banking Authority (‘EBA’). Specifically, he pointed out that, contrary to Article 73(1) of Regulation 1093/2010 in conjunction with Article 4 of Regulation 1/58, the EBA’s website provides information exclusively in the English language. The complainant considered this practice also to amount to an instance of language discrimination. He stated that this was particularly serious, considering that the EBA’s activities affect the entire EU, including European bank customers, who should be able to grasp EBA guidelines without facing any language barriers. The complainant asked the Committee on Petitions to prevail upon the EBA to comply with Article 73(1) of Regulation 1093/2010. Referring to Parliament’s role as legislator, he also suggested that the Committee include in its assessment the other “European supervisory authorities” likely to give rise to the same concerns.
The Ombudsman found no maladministration although the Decision states:
As far as the external communication of EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies with citizens is concerned, it has been the Ombudsman’s longstanding position that it would be ideal for the material intended for such purposes to be published in all official languages. This position is based on the rationale that, in order for such communication to be effective, it is necessary that citizens can understand the information provided to them…. transparency and accessibility have a very important role to play in building citizen trust in EU institutions, while also constituting essential parts of the citizens’ right to participate in the democratic life of the Union. It follows from the above that it is of paramount importance for citizens to be able to access information concerning the EBA’s work in a language they can understand.
However, the Ombudsman noted that the EBA had not been in existence for very long, that it had limited resources, and that it was making progress in translating documents. Nevertheless, the EBA’s Annual Report for 2012 is today published only in English. The announcement of the publication of the Annual Report states:
A separate publication summarising the key features of the 2012 Annual Report is also published and it will soon be available in all EU languages.
This doesn’t look like a real commitment to multilingualism: a multilingual summary of the real document will be provided to those who don’t read English – and are therefore not included in a real sense in debates about EU financial regulation.