France would like the EU to use more French

In the first six months of 2022, France will assume the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, the community body in which representatives of the governments of the 27 member states sit. Although he has yet to reveal his state’s political priorities, He has already made it known unofficially That he would use the six months to encourage the use of French within European institutions: several French officials made it clear Politico.

For many decades, until about the 1980s, French was the lingua franca of diplomacy, especially in Europe. The direct involvement of the United States in world affairs led to the imposition of the use of the English language, even in European institutional settings. However, for some time, especially after Brexit, France has been insisting on the frequent use of national languages ​​in Europe, which have already been translated by a large group of interpreters and translators. French officials bring up the question of the richness of the debate – school English spoken by most officials and politicians does not allow for conversations of great depth – and of identity: “It’s a matter of multilingual pride,” said a French official. Politico.

The unblocked hope of France is that once English gets out of the way, French will automatically regain its position as a lingua franca. In the meantime, it will certainly be during the six months of the French presidency. Politico He writes that all council meetings and preparatory meetings, and therefore also press conferences, will likely be held in French.

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It is a somewhat retrograde choice, in line with The last shift to the right of Emmanuel Macron’s government: The last countries to assume the rotating presidency of the Council used English as the main language. However, the decision is permitted under the Institutions Regulation. At the moment, the French are actually one of the working languages Both the Committee, in English and German, and the Council, besides English. At the discretion of the European Commission cited PoliticoNearly eighty percent of their employees speak French as a first, second or third language.

Knowing the basics is essential for working in a European context, not just for internal rules. Both the main offices of European institutions, Brussels and Strasbourg, are French-speaking cities: this means that to order a pizza, call a taxi or negotiate a lease, parliamentarians, officials, assistants and journalists use French mostly, while English remains the language of “work”.

Not for everyone, of course. However, the French tend to use French, taking advantage of the simultaneous translation and the fact that everyone understands it a little at the end. During meetings of COREPER, the association of permanent representatives of national governments that attends council meetings, French representatives always speak French, and the French member of the commission, Thierry Breton, almost always speaks French. Only Michel Barnier, the EU’s former chief Brexit negotiator, used to alternate between English and French during his press conferences.

– Read also: In European institutions we understand each other less

The French are not the only ones spending on increasing the use of the French language. In May, the members of an informal group of Council’s 19 members met for the first time, including permanent representatives who speak French. In September, a report will be published in which about fifteen people, including Italian MP Sandro Gozzi, who is Italian but elected in France, is working to promote the use of the French language within European institutions.

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Probably the most upsetting about France’s decision are the politicians and diplomats from Eastern European countries, who entered the European Union when French was replaced by English. “Some are afraid of losing small parts, because their French is not good,” explained an Eastern European diplomat. Politico.

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