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Mainstreaming the Duty of Clarity and Transparency as part of Good Administrative Practice in the EU

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Language rights in the EU tend to be viewed in terms of the respect of national identity on the one hand and the clear and harmonised application of the internal market on the other. It is argued that an efficient language policy in the EU is one that reconciles respect for diversity with the need for effective communication. The use of specialist jargon in effect consolidates networks and power, of which there are two separate but related dimensions. The first is the external dimension of language, namely the lingua francaof deliberation, be it English, French, German, and so on. The second dimension refers to the use of élite codes, that is, language for ‘insiders’, which operates in spheres of politics, the law, economics, culture, medicine, and so on. It is the latter which the EU language rights régime has neglected. The absence of enabling provisions governing a duty of clear language renders democratic legitimacy intended by the former relatively meaningless. It is argued that the law can protect, facilitate, safeguard, and encourage clarity and transparency as part of good administrative practice. The duty to use language in a clear and comprehensible manner that has arisen in relation to producers in the EC law context of consumer rights is a useful case in point.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: European Forum, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute, Florence & Department of Politics, University of Exeter, UK

Publication date: 2004-05-01

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