“A Europe of polyglots is not a Europe of people who speak many languages fluently, but, in the best case scenario, of people who can communicate, each one speaking his own language and understanding the one of the other.

People who, while not being able to speak it fluently, by understanding it, even with difficulty, would understand the “spirit”, the cultural universe that everyone expresses when speaking the language of his ancestors and of his own tradition.”

Umberto Eco, La ricerca della lingua perfetta, 1993


Intercomprehension of related languages is a very old practice, and there is evidence of it throughout human history. Records Mediterranean countries, for example, provide frequent evidence of it. In Scandinavia, the relative closeness of Danish, Swedish and Norwegian encourages intercomprehension and for almost a century schoolchildren have been given an introduction to the other two Scandinavian languages during lessons in their own language.

Intercomprehension is a method of communicating that illustrates a new approach to the policy of language learning. It avoids having to use a third language between two people who speak similar languages. This is particularly important in the European context. The European Union is multilingual, in its day-to-day affairs as well as in its legislation.


Any person who holds the nationality of an EU country is automatically also an EU citizen. EU citizenship is additional to and does not replace national citizenship. It is for each EU country to lay down the conditions for the acquisition and loss of nationality of that country.Citizenship of the Union is conferred directly on every EU citizen by the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.