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English as an official EU language? (The Guardian)


Last Updated: 28 Dec 2019

Will Brexit spell the end of English as an official EU language?


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Though the UK is leaving, English is likely to remain a lingua franca in Brussels. Just don’t expect it to stand still

Now that we know that Boris Johnson will “get Brexit done” by the end of January 2020, what are the implications for English as an official language of the European Union and in the European parliament? Could it stop being used when Britain leaves?

In 2016 Danuta Hübner, an MEP and chair of the European parliament’s constitutional affairs committee, was quoted as saying, “If we don’t have the UK, we don’t have English.” But is it as simple as that?

Until the 1990s, the dominant language of the EU was French. When the EU was the EC (European Community) and the official language policy was defined, Dutch, French, German and Italian were identified as the working languages. However, as more countries joined, many of which had English as a second or additional language, the number of English speakers grew until English became the majority common language.

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