German MEP's seek end to French language dominance

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri May 19 12:43:39 UTC 2006

German MEPs seek end to French language dominance

German MEPs have asked European parliament president Josep Borrell for
more texts in German and fewer in French. German centre-right MEP Michael
Gahler is collecting signatures in the parliament to support his bid for
Brussels to be visibly multilingual and speak more German. Together with
13 German-speaking colleagues, Gahler has written a letter to Borrell
asking him to end the dominance of French in EU politics, reports German
daily Die Welt. Gahler notes that since enlargement, German has become the
most widely understood language of the EU after English, with one in three
Europeans speaking German.

German MEPs also outnumber their French counterparts. Of the 732 MEPs, 120
speak German as their mother tongue compared to just 84 for French. Among
Gahlers grievances is that fact that the exit signs in parliament are
written in French, as are the menus in its restaurant. Delegates were also
annoyed when a recent Strasbourg invitation to have lunch with German
president Horst Kohler was sent out only in French. It is not the first
time calls for increasing the presence of German in Brussels have made

Earlier this week, FT Deutschland revealed that top EU officials are
learning German. Students include Estonian transparency commssioner Siim
Kallas, Latvian energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs and Polands Danuta
Hbner, commissioner for regional policy. The European Ombudsman Nikiforos
Diamandouros recently backed calls for EU presidency websites to be
published in more languages following a complaint from a German language
defence association. However, Finland, which takes over the EU presidency
from Austria in July, has already said it will stick to English and

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