The EU-UK relations hit new low when the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker launched assault on language of Shakespeare, declaring he preferred to give a speech in French because English was becoming less paramount.
“Slowly but surely English is losing importance in Europe,” Juncker told a conference in the Italian city of Florence, drawing laughter and applause from his audience of EU officials, local leaders and Italian students.
Juncker is a polyglot, speaking several European languages, claiming that he has the advantage of speaking many languages also in a better understanding of the Franco-German relationship, the driving force of the EU. He regularly speaks English at international gatherings, and usually would pronounce a speech in three languages: English, French and German.
In Florence Juncker added that he also wanted to speak French to be better understood in France ahead of Sunday’s final presidential election round.
The conference, on the state of the European Union, comes at a time of tensions between Brussels and Britain ahead of the opening of formal negotiations over Britain’s withdrawal from the 28-nation bloc.
Among seven thousand living languages two thousands are spoken by small communities up to two thousand people, while the most popular is Mandarin Chinese spoken by more 1,2 billion.
English remains the most rapidly developing language due to expansion of technologies – it adds on average 15 new words a day. The European Digital Agenda might be severely damaged if the political motives will prevail over the progress.
English language will stay as EU official EU27 owing to Malta, however if political will is there its positions of lingua franca of the EU bodies can be substantially reduced.