EU official languages

When (if) Britain leaves the EU, will English cease to be an official language ? So does that mean it will no longer be used in EU documents and at conferences ?

No, because English is an official language of other EU members (Ireland and Malta) and because it’s so widely understood among officials (even excluding British MEPs and civil servants) that it is by far the most common working language of the EU.

Irish and Maltese are the official languages of those countries. I don’t doubt that they’ll continue to use English unofficially, but wonder if some members (France) would like to remove English.

Ireland’s Official Languages Act

English is an official language of Ireland and it’s the language most commonly used for administration and government functions. They’re not going to want to stop using it in the EU.

English is also an official language of Ireland.

Individual French people might possibly want to remove English, but France as a country certainly wouldn’t seriously consider it. English is one of the three procedural languages of the EU, along with French and German. Aside from the fact that it continues to be an official language of two EU members, it is the most common shared second language throughout the EU as a whole. From Wiki:

It won’t be removed because it would make communication more difficult. Doing so would be extremely stupid. Conceivably English might be kept even if it weren’t an official language of any member.

From the Constitution of Malta (which, surprise surprise, is written in English):

(a) …as well as English.

Re Malta: (for example)

Re Ireland: (see Art 8).

(b) Aside from these considerations, if the UK is ultimately idiotic enough to leave, then countries are queueing up to take over the gateway-to-Europe roles that the UK formerly occupied. To do so they need to use English.

IIRC, a few months ago there was discussion at the EU level of how convenient it was that the UK (being the first joiner amongst UK, MT, IR) had gifted the language to the EU. I think that was in the context of maintaining it as a working language of EU institutions. This sort of thing:


Ahem :smack:

In that little flurry of posts, coming third of three rendered my comments completely redundant. Pls disregard.


Juncker once said he’d stop speaking English before the commission, given the small number of native speakers left. Don’t know if he followed through.

I don’t know the Commission would include drastically more members who had one of the other procedural languages as a birth language. French is an official national language of only three members (the others being Belgium and Luxembourg), German of four (the others being Austria, Belgium, and Luxembourg). (They are official at a sub-national level in others.)

The joke years ago was that they use English because the French refuse to speak German and the Germans refuse to speak French.

The other joke was that the good news is that all of Europe appears to be uniting into one big country. the bad news is, it will be called Germany.

Exactly, so the ratio of German to French to English speakers should be about 9:7:1 after Brexit.

How on Earth do you figure that? Assuming that a native of Belgium or Luxembourg has only one birth language, it would range from German having 4, 3, or 2, French 3, 2, or 1, and English 2 or 1. (Although Irish is an official language in Ireland, few people have it as a birth language. And a Belgian might have Dutch/Flemish as their birth language instead of French or German.)

German is an official language of Belgium?

I thought their languages were French and Flemish?

There’s a little chunk of Belgium that is predominantly German-speaking. It’s changed hands a few times.

Belgium has a small German-speaking region right next to its border with Germany.

In fact, Belgium is a federal state made up of three communities (Flemish, Walloon, German), each with their own parliament and governmental structures.

There are roughly 73,000 speakers of German in Belgium, concentrated around the city of Eupen, which is where the government of the German community is located.

The existence of the German community as a third federal entity in Belgium means that German is, indeed, one of the three official languages of Belgium.

The Republic of Ireland has a population of about 4.7 million and under 200,000 of those have any comfort or fluency in Irish Gaelic. If they didn’t have English as an official language 95% of the population would be screwed.

French and Dutch. Although various dialects of Dutch are spoken in Belgium, the official language in Flanders is standard Dutch.

Ah, but we want English to be lingua franca in EU. 30% because we don’t want to speak German if we don’t have to, 30% is US (mostly cultural) influence and rest accounts to various petty reasons. UK included in petty reasons.