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The European Year of Languages will go ahead as planned in 2001, opening the door to a range of new measures to promote language-learning throughout Europe.
The objectives of the Year of Languages project, which is being organised jointly by the European Commission and the Council of Europe, are to increase public awareness of linguistic diversity and to encourage multilingualism. The project, which will have the backing of about 8 million Euros from the European Commission, will also promote the benefits of life-long learning of languages for specific purposes.
All eleven official languages of the EU will be eligible for support from the programme, along with two other national languages, Irish and Luxembourgish. In each member state, co-ordinating bodies will be appointed to identify and develop projects at national level.
The support offered to minority languages is as yet unclear; it’s understood that Member States will also be asked to identify other languages spoken on their territory for inclusion in the programme. Theoretically, each Member State could request that each minority language also be included, but concerns have been expressed in some quarters that some national governments would not wish to promote lesser-used languages in this way.