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Netherlands/ 5.1 General legislation  

5.1.9 Language laws

Dutch and Frisian are the official languages in the Netherlands. For the three special municipalities Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, English and Papiamento are official languages as well (see chapter 4.2.5). The spelling of the Dutch language is laid down in the Spelling Act [Spellingwet].


In 2010, the demissionary Balkenende IV Cabinet handed in a legislative proposal to include the Dutch language in the constitution.

As a result of internationalisation and the diversity of the population, other languages are increasingly being spoken in the Netherlands, with English especially gaining ground. The purpose of the proposed amendment to the constitution is to guarantee that the Dutch language will always be the lingua franca in the Netherlands. The provision in the constitution concerning Frisian is to guarantee that the current status of the Frisian language will be maintained. The Dutch language will be enshrined in the constitution as article 23a, and it will come into force in 2015.

Frisian laws and agreements

In 2011, the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Ronald Plasterk, announced a new law concerning the Frisian language. This law offers everybody in the province of Fryslân the right to use the Frisian language in contacts with the government. In addition, a council for the Frisian language is to be formed in order to protect and stimulate the use of Frisian.

In 2013, the Administrative Agreement on Frisian Language and Culture 2013-2018 was signed. This document contains a number of agreements that aim to stimulate the Frisian language and culture, especially in the fields of education, media and culture. Those involved are the Ministries of the Interior and Kingdom Relations; Education, Culture and Science; Foreign Affairs; Security and Justice; and Social Affairs and Employment (see chapter 4.2.5).

Chapter published: 15-03-2017

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