tribune. Last September, it was an amazing petition that officials of the European Commission, of various nationalities, addressed to their future president, Ursula von der Leyen. Their request: to be able to work in French. Without apologizing or hiding. French, along with German and English, enjoys the status of working language in the European institutions. A place that France draws from its historical role in the construction of Europe.
Yet in reality, the languages of Goethe and Molière were gradually marginalized: if, in 1986, 26% of the texts of the Commission were in English, they were 81% in 2014. Meanwhile, the place of French has gone from 58 % in 1986 to 3.5% in 2016. "Even when the hierarchy is francophone, we receive as an oral instruction not to produce documents in languages other than English", write the petitioners. Of the 30 agencies in the Union, about 20 present their site only in English. This linguistic hegemony reinforces the sense of distance of the European Union felt by the citizens.
In Brussels, we speak, we write, we think in English. Is it really serious? Without hesitation, we answer yes. Firstly because the linguistic hegemony reinforces the sense of distance of the European Union (EU) felt by citizens. Secondly because this "all English" contradicts the European project, based on cultural plurality. Finally, because lawyers complain of the mediocre level of English which hinders the clarity of texts. Lobbyists use this legal power to serve their interests.
The "all English" does not stem from pragmatism alone, it is also ideological
In reality, the threat is the hegemony, not of the English language itself, but of the global english, this "globish" poor and summary. When whole sections of university knowledge are no longer written or thought in French, then we speak of "loss of domain". The same goes for the production of standards. And it is no coincidence that the Anglicization of Europe has accompanied its liberal turn: the "all English" does not stem from pragmatism alone, it is also ideological.
The Anglicization of the European Union was indeed concomitant with the rise of Anglo-Saxon neo-liberalism, which began in the 1980s. Financial Times, the British business daily, has become the benchmark newspaper in Brussels.