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7.2.4. Rules governing the languages of the institutions

Article 290 of the EC Treaty (now Article 342 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union) and Article 190 of the Euratom Treaty give responsibility to the Council, acting unanimously, for determining the rules governing the languages of the Community institutions, ‘without prejudice to the provisions contained in the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union’.

On this basis, the Council adopted, on 15 April 1958, Regulation No 1, determining the languages to be used in the European Economic Community, a regulation that has been amended with the various acts of accession.

Currenttly, there are 24 official and working languages of the EU institutions (see Section 7.2.1).


Up to 31 December 2006, Irish was not included in the working languages of the EU institutions. Pursuant to an agreement made in 1971 between Ireland and the Community, Irish was considered an official Community language, it being understood, however, that only primary legislation was drawn up in that language.

On 1 January 2007, Irish became a full EU official language, with a temporary derogation for a renewable period of 5 years (see Council Regulation (EC) No 920/2005 of 13 June 2005 (OJ L 156, 18.6.2005, p. 3)) stating that ‘the institutions of the European Union shall not be bound by the obligation to draft all acts in Irish and to publish them in that language in the Official Journal of the European Union’, except for regulations adopted jointly by the European Parliament and the Council. This derogation was extended until 31 December 2016 by Council Regulation (EU) No 1257/2010 (OJ L 343, 29.12.2010, p. 5). It was extended again by Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2015/2264 (OJ L 322, 8.12.2015, p. 1). The Irish derogation ceased to apply as from 1 January 2022.

Irish or Gaelic?

Contrary to certain usage, those two terms are not synonymous.

Gaelic = Celtic language group of Ireland and Scotland
Irish = the Celtic language of Ireland

The first official language of Ireland is Irish, the second is English.


A temporary derogation from the obligation to draft acts in Maltese and to publish them in the Official Journal of the European Union was adopted by the Council on 1 May 2004. This derogation was to be applied for a period of 3 years, extendable for a further 1 year, to all acts with the exception of regulations adopted jointly by the European Parliament and the Council (see Council Regulation (EC) No 930/2004 of 1 May 2004 (OJ L 169, 1.5.2004, p. 1)). The Council decided to stop this derogation in 2007, after the first period of 3 years.

Last updaten : 25.1.2022
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