Take that, Macron! Bid for French to be EU’s language rejected as Helsinki goes English

Juhana Vartiainen, the new mayor of the Finnish capital, made the suggestion as a way to fight a shortage of skilled workers in the labour market. The Finnish politician aims at convincing the 40 percent of foreign students who now leave the European capital within a year after graduation.

In Finland, a bilingual country, civil servants are required to know both Finnish and Swedish.

Vartiainen wants to widen the debate of declaring parts of the public sector English-speaking to attract more skilled workers.

The proposal comes as a blow to europhiles in the bloc who have been fighting for EU member states to ditch English in favour of French or other languages since Brexit.

French President Emmanuel Macron and his closest ally Clement Beaune have been trying to convince Brussels to ditch the English language for years, with one mayor even claiming the UK’s mother tongue has not got “any legitimacy” in Europe anymore.

Francophone campaigners have called for the EU to confirm French as the official language of the bloc, after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to do the same in Quebec.

Mr Trudeau will soon amend the Official Languages Act, which has proclaimed English and French as the official languages of the Canadian federal state since 1969, an anonymous government source revealed to La Presse.

A French mayor has called for Brussels to ditch its use of the English language after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

English is one of 24 ‘official languages’ of the EU while it is also one of the ‘working languages’ used to conduct everyday business.

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In 2013, an EU report revealed that English had squeezed out every other language in the competition to become the common tongue of Europe.

It found that English is the most popular foreign language in all but five European countries, and all of those are small nations that use the language of their larger neighbours.

The report also found that two out of three people across the continent have at least a fair working knowledge of English.

The report published by the EU statistics arm Eurostat suggested that the dominance of English was likely to become even greater in the future.

It found that 94 percent of secondary school pupils and 83 percent of primary age pupils across the EU are learning English as their first foreign language, more than four times as many as learn French, German or Spanish. Only in Britain and Ireland is French the top foreign language in schools.


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