Sunday

23rd Jan 2022

Croatian to become 24th EU language

  • Croatian will become the 24st EU language. (Photo: EUobserver)

Croatian will become the European Union's 24th official language when the country joins the EU.

Officials made the decision during talks on Croatia's accession when the negotiating chapter on institutions was closed two weeks ago. In most cases, the EU simply accepts the official language of an acceding country as one of its official languages.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

But in the case of Croatia there had been concerns that some member states would demand that only a single language, a hybrid of Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian and Montenegrin that is understood throughout the region, be admitted. Such a language would not be changed when other Western Balkan states eventually acceded to the EU in order to reduce translating and interpreting costs.

The idea was never proposed officially but diplomats and members of parliament suggested it would be logical if so many people speak the same language under different names. As a model they pointed to the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague where proceedings are translated into a Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian vernacular called BHS.

Some Croatian officials have said in the past that if the EU failed to accept Croatian as an official language it would be almost impossible to get the support of Croatian citizens in a referendum to join the EU.

"For the time being, we will have Croatian as an official language," one EU official said. "When Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro negotiate about membership it might be a different story because millions of euros are spent for the translation of documents and interpretation in the meetings of EU institutions."

The EU rule foresees that a language enshrined as official in a joining country's constitution will become an official EU language as well. This status was awarded to Czech and Slovakian, two languages as similar to one another as Croatian is to Serbian. Statements by Czech officials and Czech films broadcast on Slovak TV are not translated.

Beside the additional burden of Serbian, Bosnian or Montenegrin, the case of Macedonia is likely to pose additional linguistic problems. Many Bulgarians do not recognise the existence of a distinct Macedonian language while Greece objects against the neighbouring country's use of the names Macedonia and Macedonian.

In Croatia, news of the EU's acceptance of Croatian as an official language was welcomed. Prime minister Jadranka Kosor declared it one of the biggest successes in the accession talks.

Lawyers threaten action over new EU gas and nuclear rules

Environmental lawyers are threatening to take legal action against the European Commission if gas is included in the EU guidelines for sustainable finances. But the draft taxonomy has also triggered discontent among some EU national capitals and MEPs.

MEPs urge inclusion of abortion rights in EU charter

MEPs have recalled their demands to include the right to legal and safe abortion into the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, a day after French president Emmanuel Macron pledged to open such a debate in the EU Council.

EU orders Poland to pay €70m in fines

The case is one of many disputes between the EU and Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which have started to cost money for Warsaw.

Dutch mayors protest strict lockdown measures

Thirty Dutch mayors have asked the national government to rethink its corona pandemic measures amid protests from museums and cultural centres against continued lockdown.

Macron promises strong EU borders

Obligatory detentions, more security-screening, and faster deportations - these are the French EU presidency's migration priorities.

MEPs to crackdown on digital 'Wild West'

MEPs will vote on new rules setting out transparency obligations for online players and holding Big Tech giants accountable. But some issues proved to be divisive after EU lawmakers tabled over a hundred amendments on the file.

News in Brief

  1. 'No embargo' on meetings with Putin, EU says
  2. Austria to fine unvaccinated people €3,600
  3. MEP: Airlines should start paying for CO2 sooner
  4. Twitter forced to disclose what it does to tackle hate speech
  5. EU watchdog calls for ban on political microtargeting
  6. MEPs adopt position on Digital Service Act
  7. Blinken delivers stark warning to Russia in Berlin
  8. Hungary's Orbán to discuss nuclear project with Putin

Analysis

Hydrogen - the 'no-lose bet' for fossil-fuel industry?

The EU plans to label natural gas as 'green' in sustainable investment rules. From 2026 it will have to be blended with low-carbon gases like green hydrogen - but many scientists warn this is inefficient, costly and damaging to health.

Opinion

Macron's vision will hit EU Council veto buffers

President Emmanuel Macron's address to the European Parliament championed a bold and ambitious pro-European agenda. There is one problem though - the plans rely on a system of governance that has gridlocked the EU for over a decade.

Latest News

  1. Lawyers threaten action over new EU gas and nuclear rules
  2. MEPs urge inclusion of abortion rights in EU charter
  3. EU orders Poland to pay €70m in fines
  4. Dutch mayors protest strict lockdown measures
  5. Macron promises strong EU borders
  6. MEPs to crackdown on digital 'Wild West'
  7. Macron calls for new security order and talks with Russia
  8. Macron's vision will hit EU Council veto buffers

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us