Communication, Efficiency, and Fairness in the European Union

Public Affairs Quarterly 30 (2):129-147 (2016)
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Abstract

Political integration in the European Union creates the need for a common means of communication among the various linguistic communities in Europe. One way of meeting this need is unilingualism: the use of a single language as a "lingua franca". While this option has been thought to be efficient, this does not mean that we should necessarily choose it. This paper argues that a unilinual Europe will inevitably be unfair despite recent attempts to show otherwise, since non-native speakers of the lingua franca will pick up the costs of learning it while native speakers can free-ride on their efforts. This unfairness provides a reason for preferring alternative means of facilitating communication. In particular, multilingualism - communication through translators and interpreters - may be preferable.

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Isaac Taylor
Stockholm University

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