Ferrari tear up Junker with jibe at English
Ray Bassett said the French president’s apparent ambitions for his mother tongue were “delusional” as he believed Brexit would mark the UK’s economic collapse. Mr Bassett, a close aide of Mr Macron, the former Irish ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, was speaking after French MEP Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne discussed the subject later this week.
In particular, Mr Lemoyne suggested that his country use his upcoming EU presidency to push English not to be one of the bloc’s official languages.
However, Mr Bassett suggested that he and Mr Macron would eventually be disappointed.
He told Express.co.uk: “As you know, I have always thought that the French government saw Brexit as an opportunity to reduce the importance of English in EU institutions.
French President Emmanuel Macron (Image: GETTY)
Jean-Claude Juncker claimed English was becoming less important in 2017 (Image: GETTY)
“The French language has been losing its importance over the years. When I began attending then-EEC meetings in the late 1970s, French was the de facto dominant language in the corridors of power in Brussels.
“Over the years, that has changed and the French are now far behind.
“The accession of countries from Central and Eastern Europe to the European Union has exacerbated this trend as French is not the most studied foreign language in any of the new member states.
Mr Bassett pointed to an infamous comment by Jean-Claude Juncker in 2017, when the then President of the European Commission said that “English is losing importance in the EU”.
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Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said France would use its EU presidency to advance its case (Image: France3tv)
Mr Bassett said: ‘It was not a heartfelt thought for Irish politicians and officials with language problems.
“However, I do not see concrete evidence of much progress being made in the midst of the French push for greater use of its language.
“Hence the idea that the French can take advantage of their next EU presidency to push for greater use of their language.
Nonetheless, Mr Bassett argued that his hopes for success were “doomed to be based on broad considerations”.
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Emmanuel Macron and Italian President Sergio Mattarella yesterday (Image: GETTY)
Clement Beaune, French Minister for European Affairs (Image: GETTY)
He explained: “Internationally, French is losing popularity not only compared to English, but also to Spanish and Mandarin.
“In business terms, the German seems to have the upper hand over the French, especially with the European Central Bank based in Frankfurt.
“Although the EU does not officially have a single working language, the reality is that English will retain its place as the dominant medium of communication as it reflects society at large.”
Mr Bassett said: “I fear that French attempts to go back to the 1970s are essentially futile attempts to regain France’s past glory.
The EU’s trade landscape after Brexit (Image: EXPRESS)
“Just as President Macron is bragging about the UK’s economic demise after Brexit, the pressure for greater use of the French language in the EU is equally widespread.”
Speaking on French television, Mr Lemoyne, the politician of En Marche, while addressing the French Minister of European Affairs, announced: “France assumes the presidency of the European Union and, together with Clement Beaune, we want this topic to be a top priority. .
“The French language should have a better place in European institutions, but not only in French, but also among other languages.
“We cannot be satisfied using only 500 words of English, one of Globish, one of incomprehensible Esperanto.
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefkovic (Image: GETTY)
Mr Lemoyne’s remarks echoed last year’s comments from Jordan Bardella, MEP for the right-wing Assembly National Party.
Mr Bardella urged European Commissioner Maros Sefkovic on the matter, asking him: “What is the Commission’s position on the issue of retaining English as the official language of the European Union?”
Mr Sefkovic recalled that English was “one of the official and working languages of the institutions of the Union”.
He added: “In addition, the Commission would like to emphasize that English is one of the official languages of two Member States, namely the Republic of Ireland and Malta.
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