chapter  2
16 Pages

Law, Language and Multilingualism in Europe: The Call for a New Legal Culture

The unique linguistic regime in which European law operates constitutes part of the complex system of lawmaking established by the European Treaties. Until recent years, the problems and opportunities arising within the framework of the EU linguistic regime were not high on the agenda of mainstream scholarly research. Brilliant forward-looking efforts, such as those to map the development of a new European legal culture, still ignored the challenges and consequences of the choice to frame the law in a plurality of languages across the European space.2 This situation is changing. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is regularly confronted with the problem of how to deal with discrepancies among the various language versions of EU legislation. Abundant specialist literature exists on the drafting, interpretation and application of multilingual EU law in the 24 official languages of the European Union, as well as on the challenging translation issues connected to this dynamic. This chapter therefore does not intend to discuss that linguistic regime and the institutional arrangements making it possible, nor does it comment on the state of the art in the related field of translation studies concerning EU law.3