SMEs ‘losing business’ due to lack of “linguistic and intercultural skills”

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Small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe are losing business due to a lack of “linguistic and intercultural skills” among their employees, EU Multilingualism Commissioner Leonard Orban told business representatives this week.

English ‘not business lingua franca’

“Sometimes people think that English is the lingua franca for business, but this is not true,” Commissioner Orban told participants in a roundtable discussion on the importance of language skills for SMEs, held as part of the EU’s SME Weekexternal.

“In terms of communication, English might be the lingua franca, but in addressing consumers everywhere in Europe and outside the EU, of course, the company should […] develop linguistic and intercultural strategies,” Orban said.

The commissioner was addressing a roundtable which focused on “practical tools” to help small countries improve their work with languages. Discussions focused on possible shortcuts to better multilingual communication, reaching out to new customers abroad, and “making better strategic use of language skills”.

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