Friday, 27 February 2009


Issued 27 February 2009
for immediate use

Rob Gibson, SNP MSP for the Highlands & Islands, yesterday (26 Feb) met with the EU Commissioner for Multilingualism, Leonard Orban, during his visit to the Scottish Parliament.

As the Convenor of the Cross Party Group on Scots Language, Mr Gibson took the opportunity during the visit to brief the Commissioner on current efforts to raise the profile of the Scots language and have it officially recognised as a national language.

The primary role of the Commissioner is to oversee the EU Commission’s policy on multilingualism and encourage language learning, promote linguistic diversity in society and a healthy multilingual economy, and give citizens access to European Union legislation in their own languages.

Commenting on the meeting, Rob Gibson said:

"It was a pleasure to meet with Commissioner Orban during his visit to our Parliament and have a discussion on the importance of Scots to our national identity and culture.

"I discussed with Commissioner Orban the recently conducted audit of the Scots language by the Scottish Government. It was widely praised by participants at a recent seminar in Stirling as a baseline to build self-esteem for the native tongue spoken in dialects from Shetland to Dumfries."

"The Commission’s multilingualism policy encourages language learning and promoting linguistic diversity in society. It gives citizens access to European Union supports development cash. Our Scots language Cross Party Group in the Parliament will be building on this experience."



Photo attached - from left to right: Mr Johan Erik Häggman, Commissioner’s Cabinet; Mr Leonard Orban, EU Commissioner for Multilingualism; Rob Gibson MSP, Highlands & Islands Region; Haley St. Dennis, Parliamentary Assistant to Rob Gibson MSP.

The European Commission's website states:

“The European Union is founded on ‘unity in diversity’: diversity of cultures, customs, beliefs and languages. Linguistic diversity is a particularly valuable feature of the European Union.”

“The ability to communicate in several languages is a great benefit for individuals, organisations and companies alike. It enhances creativity, breaks cultural stereotypes, encourages thinking “outside the box”, and can help develop innovative products and services. These are all qualities and activities that have real economic value. Multilingualism also helps to make people more mobile to pursue learning opportunities or job vacancies in different countries. It is good for individuals, business and competitiveness. By extension, it is crucial for achieving the over-arching policy aim for the European Union: the Lisbon strategy to create more jobs and growth. Not only is multilingualism good for the economy, it is also essential to integration in the labour market, social cohesion and makes a major contribution to intercultural dialogue. Language is an integral part of our identity and the most direct expression of culture. It is through language that we socialise, that we organise our thoughts, that we transmit our cultural heritage. Languages build bridges to other people and cultures.”

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