Emmanuel Macron’s government has sought to boost the cultural importance of the French language within the European Union after Britain’s departure. France will head the rotating presidency of the EU council in 2022. Now French officials have stated they will conduct key meetings and working groups in French.
An EU diplomat told the Daily Telegraph that notes from these meetings will be taken in French and translations will not always be provided.
France has also stated it will distribute funding for free French language classes for diplomats who may wish to learn.
It is common for French presidencies of the European Council to insist on the use of French.
However, France is hoping push for French to be the foundation language for EU institutions.
Clement Beaune, France’s Europe minister, said in April: “Even though the French language is alive, flourishing, and its teaching is developing around the world, it is at home, within the European institutions, that it suffers.
“In the Commission, in the Council, in the agencies, bodies and administrations, meetings are now too often held in English.
“This has given rise to reports in English, even though this language is now no more than that of two Member States.”
Now President Macron has said initiatives to boost French learning across the world and promote plurilingualism is one of his major goals.
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French is one of the bloc’s three working languages, the other two being English and German.
There are a total of 24 official languages in the EU.
French used to be the dominant language in EU diplomatic circles in the predominantly French-speaking city of Brussels.
However, the expansion of the EU in 2004 to include eastern European countries such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
This resulted in a decline of the use of French.
The use of English, the most spoken language in Europe, became more commonly used within the corridors of EU institutions in the Brussels.
Within the bloc the importance of speaking English as a second language has been growing over the past few years.
Since Britain left the bloc there are now only two member states that speak English, Ireland and Malta.
The dominance of English as an official language is now at risk.
As of 2020, it has been estimated that 80 percent of European Commission staff speak French as their first, second or third language.
It has been reported that letters sent to the European Commission in English go unanswered.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph an EU diplomat said: “When a French commissioner receives a letter in English, we wait for the French version before we hand it over to Paris.
“We will speak French during the Council’s working groups.
“Some of the working groups do not have translation systems.
“If something has not been understood, on the side-lines of the meeting we will explain it again.
“We are in Brussels, among the European civil servants there is a vast majority that speaks French.”