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France: "En français" - otherwise there is no answer

France: “En français” – otherwise there is no answer

More meetings and documents in French. And if the European Commission wants to communicate by letter with Paris, it does its best to use French – otherwise it will not be able to count on an answer, according to a diplomatic source. Politico I have spoken to.

At the beginning of the year, France will assume the presidency of the European Union, and the government does not intend to miss the opportunity to spread the French Bible. The traditional diplomatic language is one of the 24 official languages ​​of the European Union and one of the Commission’s three working languages ​​(along with English and German).

However, France has bigger ambitions for a six-month term as prime minister, Politico reports. All important Cabinet meetings will be held in French (with the usual translation for those who wish), and funds have been earmarked for training EU officials in the French language.

English is more important

French previously had a more visible function as a lingua franca in the context of the European Union. But in recent decades, both eastern expansion and growing German influence have increased the importance of the English language, as well as German, at the expense of the French language.

An unwelcome development for the French, who have often pointed out the fact that after Brexit, the EU has only two member states, and English is their official language: Ireland and Malta. A French diplomat told Politico that the 2022 presidency would be an opportunity to meet ugly, crunchy English at the gate and strike a blow to multilingualism instead.

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diffuse irritation

The question is how the attack will reach other EU member states, where there is already widespread anger at France’s insistence that Parliament’s activities be moved to Strasbourg once a month. Not least, Swedish MPs have criticized – David Lega (KD) thinks the “moving circus” is “utterly insane”, and Evin Enser (S) calls it “crazy and irresponsible”.

Resentment is also rife in the member states of Eastern Europe, as knowledge of the French language is less widespread there than in the West.

– It can be divisive, a diplomat tells Politico.

Christian Liekisen, Professor of Sciences Po, who chairs a working group that will report in September on how to strengthen the French position, stresses that France is not just acting in its own interest.

It’s also a defense of multilingualism, he says.

Facts: French

French is spoken as a mother tongue by about 75 million people in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Canada, among others, as well as the language of instruction and administration in a large number of former French colonies as well as present possessions.

The status of French as an international language has weakened over time, especially in favor of English. In diplomacy and in many international organizations, the United Nations and the European Union, it is still an important language.

The demographic development in many African countries where French is prevalent means that the number of French-speaking people is expected to increase sharply in the coming decades.

Source: NE, TT