language subtag registration request: Region EU

Doug Ewell dewell at
Thu Jan 12 17:12:43 CET 2006

Markus Scherer <markus dot icu at gmail dot com> wrote:

>   Type: Region
>   Subtag: EU
>   Description: European Union
> ...

This request runs into a few problems.  First and foremost is that RFC 
3066bis doesn't permit the registration of region subtags, except as 
necessary to keep up with ISO 3166 and UN M.49.  See Section 3.5, 
paragraph 2:  "Only subtags of type 'language' and 'variant' will be 
considered for independent registration of new subtags."  Section 3.6 
states again that only primary (not extended) language subtags and 
variant subtags may be registered in this way.  Until the ISO 3166 
Maintenance Agency formally assigns EU as a code element, it does not 

There are already region subtags not only for Europe (150), but also for 
Northern Europe (154), Southern Europe (039), Eastern Europe (151), and 
Western Europe (155).  So it is difficult for me to imagine what would 
be gained by also having a subtag for "European Union."

Unlike the concepts "Europe," "Western Europe," etc. that are reflected 
in the numeric subtags, "European Union" is not only a geographical but 
also a political concept.  The European Union is not the same as 
"Europe"; it excludes Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.  While it is 
well understood that countries themselves are political, the use of ISO 
3166-1 country codes in language tags is well established (and has been 
debated to death), but there was an explicit desire in the WG not to 
extend this to the numeric subtags by including the UN's economic 
groupings.  EU seems similar to those.  The goal of region subtags is to 
identify linguistic differences, and it's unclear to me how EU would do 
this in a way that 150 and friends would not.

I understand the desire to say "French as spoken in Europe," perhaps 
akin to the oft-cited "Spanish as spoken in Latin America," but to my 
mind fr-150 serves the first purpose just as well as es-419 serves the 
second.  I don't support the proposal to add the subtag EU.

Doug Ewell
Fullerton, California, USA

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