Emmanuel Macrons push to replace English with French as EU language: French first

Angela Merkel says she will ‘miss Emmanuel Macron’

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Today is the 44th birthday of French President Emmanuel Macron, a leader who is facing challenges on multiple fronts.  As Mr Macron prepares to face off with Marine Le Pen once more in next year’s presidential election, new figures have also emerged as genuine contenders in the 2022 vote. One is Eric Zemmour, a far-right figure who has risen to prominence in the election race in recent months despite his controversial views on immigration and race. Former EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier was also running as the candidate for the conservative Les Republicains party, but it chose Valérie Pécresse and Eric Ciotti as its finalists.

Ms Pecresse could pose a threat to Mr Macron – a poll by the Elabe survey group last week showed the former investment banker losing the second round of the election on April 24 to right-winger Ms Pécresse.

On an international front, Mr Macron has also sought to challenge the UK amid ongoing Brexit tensions.

Perhaps, with the election in mind, he has attempted to strongman Boris Johnson on issues such as fishing.

His strategy has included plans to replace English with French as the EU’s working language, as reported by Politico in June.

The plan would see French become the main language in the bloc when France takes over the Council of the European Union presidency in 2022, according to a diplomat.

A senior French diplomat told the website: “Even if we admit that English is a working language and it is commonly practiced, the basis to express oneself in French remains fully in place in the EU institutions.

“We must enrich it, and make it live again so that the French language truly regains ground, and above that, the taste and pride of multilingualism.”

The unnamed diplomat said all high-level meetings of the Council – the body which helps set the political agenda in Brussels – will be conducted in French instead of English during the six-month presidency.

Notes and minutes will also be “French-first” and the Council will expect all letters from the EU Commission to be in French.

They added: “We will always ask the Commission to send us in French the letters it wishes to address to the French authorities, and if they fail to do so, we will wait for the French version before sending it.”

In April this year, France’s Europe Minister, Clement Beaune, spoke of how the French presidency in the EU Council would present an opportunity to change the working language.

In an article for Le Figaro, he said the use of French in Brussels “had diminished to the benefit of English, and more often to Globish – that ersatz of the English language, which narrows the scope of one’s thoughts, and restricts one’s ability to express him or herself”.

The UK and France continue to clash over post-Brexit arrangements, especially over fishing.

Last week, reports claimed Mr Macron is preparing to take legal action against the UK over fishing licences.

An EU spokesman was quoted by The Sun as saying: “We’ll examine with the French the legal circumstances around every requested license which hasn’t been granted.”

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Mr Beaune also added: “We are going to ask the European Commission to initiate a legal procedure for the remaining licences that we feel that we are entitled to.”

Brexit talks have been plunged into chaos from a UK perspective this week after Brexit Minister Lord David Frost resigned from his role.

Lord Frost’s allies insist that his resignation has nothing to do with Brexit, and instead relates to Johnson’s domestic policy agenda.

But the arch-Brexiteer wing of the Conservative Party have nonetheless become concerned that the Government will back down in talks with the EU over Northern Ireland.

Liz Truss, who is Foreign Secretary, has replaced Lord Frost in the negotiating role, and has said she will speak to her EU counterpart, Maroš Šefčovič, on Tuesday.

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