Authentic languages

Authentic languages

Authentic languages

The authentic version(s) of a text is (are) the only legally binding versions. The consequence is that an act can only be validly adopted if it exists in the authentic language(s) of the case and its interpretation will be determined by reference only to those language versions. The availability of the text in the authentic language(s) at the stage of the adoption of the decision is indeed not just an administrative burden. It is a key condition of the validity of the act. 1

More about Authentic languages

The authentic language is determined according to the following basic principle enshrined in Regulation No 1: – Pursuant to Article 3(1) of Regulation 1, documents which the Commission sends to an undertaking based in the European Union will be drafted in the language of the Member State in which the undertaking is seated. – Pursuant to Article 2 of that same Regulation, documents which an undertaking sends to the Commission may be drafted in any one of the official languages of the European Union selected by the sender. The reply and subsequent correspondence will be drafted in the same language.

More about the Subject

If a Member State has more than one official language (such as Belgium, Finland and Luxemburg, for instance), the language to be used should be governed by the general rules of that Member State (Article 8 of Regulation 1/58). In bilingual countries or regions a decision is notified in the most appropriate language according to the national rules or determined in prior correspondence with the concerned addressee. Correspondence with the Belgian public authorities is however always sent in both French and Dutch.

Other Considerations

Undertakings located in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein should be addressed in English, except for undertakings located in Liechtenstein which may also be addressed in German.


Undertakings located outside the EEA should preferably be addressed in an EU language that they may understand, eg. Spanish in South America, except Portuguese in Brazil. Particular care should be taken when notifying decisions to Swiss undertakings, as one of three languages may be used, depending on the Canton in which the undertaking is established. A different language regime might however be agreed to with the Commission in correspondence before the notification of a decision (see below section 1.4).


See Also


  • Information about Authentic languages in the Antitrust Manual of Procedures for the application of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU (Internal DG Competition)


[Note 1]
see Case C-137/92 P Commission v BASF and Others [1994] ECR I-2555.

Further Reading

  • Information about Authentic languages in “An Introduction to EU Competition Law”, Moritz Lorenz (Cambridge University Press)

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