The European Indicator of Language Competence : Communication from the Commission to the Europea Parliament and the Council.
COM(2005) 356 final of 1 August 2005

The importance of encouraging societal and individual multilingualism in the European Union was rehearsed in the Commission Communication 'Promoting Language Learning and Linguistic Diversity: an Action Plan 2004 - 2006. The ability to understand and communicate in languages other than their mother tongue is a basic skill that all European citizens require. The further development of foreign language skills is important to encourage mobility within the Union; it will contribute to the creation of a truly European labour market by allowing citizens to take full advantage of the freedom to work or study in another Member State. Furthermore, a labour force with practical language and intercultural skills enables European enterprise to compete effectively in the global market-place.

Learning and speaking other languages encourages a more open approach to others, their cultures and outlooks. In addition, learning other languages improves cognitive skills and strengthens mother tongue skills, including reading and writing. Learning one lingua franca alone is not enough. The Commissions objective is a truly multilingual European society: a society in which the rate of individual multilingualism steadily increases until every citizen has practical skills in at least two languages in addition to his or her mother tongue.

Heads of State and Government in Barcelona in March 2002, having set the objective of making European Union education and training systems a world quality reference by 2010, called for further action to improve the mastery of basic skills, in particular by teaching at least two foreign languages from a very early age3 At the same time, they called for the establishment of a linguistic competence indicator in 2003.4 This decision arose from the current lack of data on the actual language skills of people in the European Union and the need for reliable systems to measure progress towards this new objective.

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