20.03.2013 POLICY

The Civil Society Platform on Multilingualism welcomes its new members and starts its action

The plenary meeting of the Civil Society Platform on Multilingualism took place in Brussels on the 8 March 2013. It was chaired as always by Uwe Mohr, Head of Language Department, from Goethe Institute.

The meeting started with an interesting update about the state of arts of Multilingualism policy at the European level by Pierre Mairesse, Director of the Directorate-General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) of the European Commission.

"The fact that the Multilingualism Unit has been merged with the Skills and Qualifications Unit as from January 2013 will not undermine the Commission's commitment to Multilingualism, but instead enhance it," he believes.

The platform´s members were then welcomed by Kristina Cunningham Head of Sector (DG EAC) and had the opportunity to discuss with her the concerted reaction from the Platform to the Rethinking Education package, including the Staff Working Document on language competences for employability, mobility and growth.

Afterward, Sonia Perissini (DG EAC) informed the platform about the latest developments of the new programme for education and training, youth and sports (Erasmus for all/YES Europe) and the opportunities it will bring to the European citizens in learning languages and to the Civil Society in fostering multilingualism. She explained the types of mobility schemes foreseen by the Commission's proposal.

"Multilingualism will be fundamental in helping European citizens to benefit from those opportunities," Ms Perissini said.

The debate following those presentations was lively, especially as regards to the foreseen impact of the new programme on the European learners.

An online platform, which would serve as a repository of multilingualism projects and resources as well as a means to create/foster partnership, was proposed by professor Bessie Dendrinos from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and then debated by the platform.

Next steps and modus operandi defined

Participants were invited to form thematic working groups in order to formulate a plan of action on the following priority topics:

  • Informal and non-formal language learning
  • Quality of language teaching and learning in Europe
  • Equal opportunities to learn languages

The 2014-2020 new programme for education and training multilingualism and youth (Erasmus for All/YES Europe) was identified as an overarching topic. The platform´s work on this subject will consist in exploring how to best make full use of it to increase multilingualism in the Europe and in reflecting on possible initiatives for the respective networks of the member organisations.

Composition´s changes in the platform

The meeting was also an occasion for the platform to welcome six new associate members and to say goodbye to one of the founders and main supporters of the platform, Teresa Condeço, Principal Administrator from the DG EAC, who will go to retirement.

The new platform members include:

  • AEGEE - Association des états généraux des étudiants de l'Europe;
  • E@I - Education at Internet;
  • EUATC - European Union of Associations of Translation Companies;
  • EAHIL - European Association for Health Information and Libraries;
  • AEBR - Association of European Border Regions and
  • NPLD - Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity

The next platform´s meeting will take place in June 2013. Until then, each working group will brainstorm and put together a document with thoughts, challenges and good practice on the above-mentioned topics.

Text: Francesca Operti