Thematic Symposium: Multilingualism in EU Institutions and EU Law

Multilingualism in EU Institutions and EU Law

Symposium Chairs: Karin Luttermann (Catholic University Eichstaett-Ingolstadt, Germany) and Jan Engberg (Aarhus University, Denmark)

Overview of symposium

United in diversity – this is the motto that the European Union chose for itself in 2000. The EU has continually gained more countries and languages. It currently comprises 28 Member States and has 24 official languages which form part of Europe’s legal culture. The official languages have to be treated equally and must be adequately integrated into the administrative process (e.g. EU Parliament, European Court of Justice). In addition, EU funding programs are designed to enable citizens to learn European languages in order to overcome barriers of communication and to build up trust. Furthermore, regional and minority languages are particularly protected in the EU. Finally, for making and communicating the EU law, translations are necessary.

All these elements of multilingualism are interconnected and play an important role for the integration process of the EU and for harmonizing EU law (see Baaij 2018, Luttermann et al. 2019, Paunio 2013, Simonnæs/Kristiansen 2019). In reality, however, multilingualism is far more vigorously postulated than practiced. In view of the infringements regarding language use within the EU’s institutions (e.g. supremacy of English in the EU Commission and of French at the European Court of Justice) and of linguistic divergences between legal text versions of the Member States, the EU faces challenges that demand well-founded answers.


Baaij, Cornelius (2018): Legal Integration and Language Diversity. Rethinking translation in EU lawmaking. New York.

Luttermann, Karin et al. (eds.) (2019): Institutionelle und individuelle Mehrsprachigkeit. Müns¬ter.

Paunio, Elina (2013): Legal certainty in multilingual EU law. Language, discourse and reasoning at the European Court of Justice. Farnham.

Simonnæs, Ingrid/Kristiansen, Marita (eds.) (2019): Legal translation. Current issues and challenges in research, methods and applications. Berlin.

Objectives of symposium

We seek to bring together researchers from law, linguistics and affiliated disciplines like translation, sociolinguistics and language policy in order to encourage interdisciplinary research. We are interested in theory-oriented studies as well as in qualitative or quantitative empirical research. Following the general multicultural approach of the AELFE conference, we are interested in studies in English, French, German and Spanish, according to the preferences of the contributors.

Submitting a proposal

Individuals interested in presenting at the Symposium are invited to submit a 300-word proposal for a 15-20 minute talk followed by a 10-15 minutes of related discussion (30 minutes total per presentation).

Proposals should follow the general guidelines and procedures for submission to AELFE TAPP 2020.

Proposals should be submitted through the online submission system: submit your proposal for this Symposium

Topics for presentations

The symposium investigates, in the linguistic realm, how a legally and economically integrated union can be created on the one hand and how legal and linguistic certainty in multilingual EU law can be achieved by respecting the distinctive cultures and languages of each Member State on the other hand. In this regard, from a legal-linguistic perspective we would like to place special attention within and across the domains of law, language and communication, with particular emphasis on issues of:


All presenters and attendees must register for the AELFE-TAPP 2020 Conference (and can participate in all conference events in addition to the Symposium). Conference details can be found on the website:

Questions specifically about the Multilingualism in EU Institutions and EU Law Symposium

If you have questions specifically about the conference’s Symposium on Multilingualism in EU Institutions and EU Law or wish to discuss any aspects of it, including prospective topics for a presentation, please feel free to email the Symposium chairs, Karin Luttermann and Jan Engberg, at or

Prof. Dr. Karin Luttermann
Catholic University Eichstaett-Ingolstadt
German Linguistics 
Universitätsallee 1
D-85072 Eichstaett

Prof. Dr. Jan Engberg
Aarhus University
School of Communication and Culture
Jens Chr. Skous Vej 4 
DK-8000 Aarhus C

Questions about the AELFE-TAPP Conference

For general questions about the overall AELFE-TAPP 2020 Conference (e.g., travel, lodging, location, etc.), please check the conference website, or email the Conference organizers at