[lg policy] EU Officials Entry Exam - UK Lobbying For Language Change

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 24 18:51:37 UTC 2010

EU Officials Entry Exam - UK Lobbying For Language Change

By: Steve Greenwood 	


The government is challenging the rules for the EU Officials Entry
Exam. At present candidates must use a second language rather than
their mother tongue. The new British government is now challenging the
rules set down for the Brussels civil service exams. The civil service
holds a compulsory exam for all European Union citizens who want to
work as European Union officials. Currently, the Brussels civil
service entry exam must be taken by candidates in a second language
rather than their mother tongue.

It seems that the British government has secured an early victory
because starting from next year; pre-selection tests for EU civil
servants can be taken in English. However, France may not be too happy
with this decision. Paris is against such policy and defended for the
EU civil service exam to be taken in the candidate’s second language.
Some say the objection is because the French government is witnessing
the use of French declining over recent years, compared to its rival

What the British government is more concerned about is the number of
Britons being admitted into the EU commission as working officials.
The EU Commission is where early drafting of new policies and
regulations take place. Without enough Britons working inside the EU
Commission, the UK government fear that they are falling behind in
influencing future policy making within the EU. The move to challenge
the language rules for civil service exam aims to increase the number
of British Citizens working in all level of the EU governmental
machinery, in particular within the EU Commission.

We have seen the decline in the number of British EU Officials working
in Brussels following the drop of second language teaching in the UK.
The newly elected Conservative government blames the previous Labour
government of its second language education policy now resulting in a
generation gap of British presence within the EU decision making

The British Foreign Secretary, William Hague also agreed that the
challenge to the civil service exam language rules is motivated by the
need to increase the number of Britons securing more EU jobs. The
current statistic shows that Britain only makes up for 1.8 percent
within the EU Commission entry level positions, even though the UK
represents almost 12 percent of the entire EU population. Mr Hague
said the new government now aims to give due weight to the exercise of
UK influence in the EU.

The Foreign Secretary also outlined that the world political landscape
has now shifted towards the eastern countries and therefore it is
crucial for the new generation of British to learn second languages.
Britain can no longer only play its cards with the Western diplomatic
players. On the contrary, future diplomats must learn second languages
that are useful in countries such as Poland, Russia, China, India,
North African countries, Turkey, and Brazil. The United States is no
longer the most reactive player within foreign affairs.

Although the British government has managed to secure the short term
victory to allow Britons to take the EU civil service exam in English,
this move might not be the best for Britain’s long term interests. The
widespread attitude of not needing to learn second languages by most
Britons is likely to decrease its competitiveness in the international
affairs arena. It is hoped that the new government will roll out new
education policies that will encourage more students to take up second
language studies.

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