First launch of the Civil Society Platform on Multilingualism in 2009
The “Civil Society Platform on Multilingualism” was launched in 2009. Twenty-three non-governmental European organizations concerned with languages, education, culture, publishing, translation, the media and other civil society sectors were selected by the European Commission to participate in a structured dialogue concerning multilingualism in practice and to develop a coherent framework for multilingual policy in the EU, as part of a larger political agenda for ‘bringing Europe closer to its citizens and strengthening a pan-European identity in harmony with national and regional identities.’ In 2011, the ‘Platform’ had completed its mandate and it submitted its recommendations in the form of a written report to the European Commission.
The re-launch of the Civil Society Platform on Multilingualism in 2012
In June 2012 the “Civil Society Platform on Multilingualism” was officially relaunched to continue its work on multilingualism within the European Union ‘in a way that aligns with the new challenges and priorities that the European Commission has outlined for the coming years’, especially the Erasmus+ programme, and the ‘Rethinking Education strategy’. It was urged ‘to emphasize and the acquisition of languages for professional growth and mobility for a more dynamic and competitive Europe’ and to ‘reveal avenues for stakeholders to collaborate and get involved at the EU policy level for more effective promotion and development of EU-wide multilingualism policy’. Finally, as laid out in the Council Conclusions, the ‘Platform’ had to work toward further ‘securing language learning opportunities for all, in order ‘to enhance the social inclusion of citizens with disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as to promote linguistic diversity and intercultural dialogue.’
The third period of the of the Civil Society Platform on Multilingualism starting in 2013
Originating from the work of the ‘Platform’ is a two-year (2011-2013) European co-funded project to which nine of the ‘Platform’ members had committed. Within the framework of the “Poliglotti4.eu” project, an online Language Observatory was produced capturing good practices across Europe. Also, research in the following areas was conducted: local and regional provision of adult language training; language policy and practice in public services; early language learning. Finally, two conferences were organised to disseminate the project results and thus guarantee the influence and participation of civil society in the European decision-making process. Project results were also announced on the project website hosted by EUNIC Global until recently. This website (www.poliglotti4.eu) is no longer functional.
Modified name and a new start for the “European Civil Society for Multilingualism” in 2016
In late 2015, the new administration of the European Commission –which had decided in 2014 to suspend the autonomous Multilingualism Unit of the DG Education and Culture– decided not to present the ‘Platform’ with a new mandate. This decision and the election of a new leadership signaled the rebirth of the ‘Platform’ which began reconsidering its role, remembering it should indeed function as the voice of the civil society, not of the Commission, nor of any other supra-national or governmental body or of the market forces. With a slightly different name and the acronym ECSPM, what was a just body of European associations became a legal entity that was determined to set its own rules, its priorities with regard to multilingualism issues and ways of operating.