On 28 February 2007, the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) published open competitions for new employment positions only in the English, French and German editions of the Official Journal of the European Union. The Italian Republic has challenged that the publications where only published in these three languages and that the process required candidates to have a satisfactory knowledge of a second language which had to be English, French or German. The Italian Republic, while admitting that full multilingualism would impair the effective functioning of the institutions, criticised the lack of clear, objective and foreseeable rules regarding the choice of the second language of the competitions. Italy has considered this to be an infringement of the European Union’s principle of multilingualism (Article 22 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union) and has therefore filled a case in the Court of Justice of the European Union against the EU Commission.

In its ruling of November 27th 2012 (Case C‑566/10 P), the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled in favour of Italy by specifying that the Official Journal of the European Union and any competition notices have to be published in all the official languages of the EU. Any arbitrary limitation will put a candidate whose mother tongue is not included in the publications in a disadvantageous situation against other candidates whose mother tongue is included in the publication. This disadvantage would mean a difference in treatment on the ground of language, prohibited by Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and by Article 1d(1) of the Staff Regulations.

Regarding the requirement of knowledge of English, French and German as second languages in the selection process, the Court admitted that it is a matter of the institutions the limitation of the number of second languages, but such limitation must be justified on objective and reasonable grounds. Since the Commission has not offered any information on the criteria used to establish such limitations, the Court has determined that the EU Commission has infringed the principle of non-discrimination on the ground of language.