12 Sep, 2018

Language equality in the digital age

500 million citizens in Europe are sharing about 80 different languages. While multilingualism is a key feature, it is also one of the most substantial challenges for the creation of a truly integrated EU. Language barriers in the digital era are a major challenge, preventing European citizens and businesses from fully benefiting from a truly integrated Europe — especially when it comes to cross-border public services, to workers’ mobility, and to cross-border e-commerce and trade.

It is against this backdrop that MEPs called on 11 September for establishing a long-term funding programme for research, development and innovation in the field of language technologies, with the aim of reducing the technology gab between the European languages.

ALDE MEP Yana Toom, Shadow Rapporteur on this file, said: Particularly the older population as well as speakers of smaller and minority languages are affected by significant obstacles in the access to information and technology only available in digital formats. Twenty European languages are even in danger of digital extinction. Thus, while we are seeking a more integrated Union, a notable language divide is actually increasing. This has not only an impact on our social stability but also on Europe’s growth and competitiveness.”

However, the emergence of new technological approaches are making Human Language Technologies (HLT) a real solution. Yet, market fragmentation, insufficient funding or uncoordinated research are still hampering real progress. That is why we need effective policies and programs to reduce inequality. By doing so, we are getting one step closer to a truly integrated Europe.”

More information here.

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