Principles of policy evaluation and their application to multilingualism in the European Union

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This policy analysis-based treatment of language choices in the European Union departs from usual approaches that stress educational, legal or political aspects, and attempts instead to develop an evaluative framework resting on the standard breakdowns of policy analysis, particularly the distinction between efficiency and fairness. The paper focuses on the narrower question of ensuring communication at reasonable cost in European institutions, and discusses the advantages and drawbacks of seven different models, or “language regimes”. It is shown that depending on the relative importance given to different criteria such as communicative speed, organisational simplicity, or inclusiveness, any of these models can be considered “best”. This general result points to the need to clarify policy goals, to beware of seemingly “obvious” solutions, and to develop language policies that combine different language regimes.


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