Jean-Claude Juncker "delusional" - Position of English "unassailable"

The leader of the EU's embryonic government, commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, has been slapped down by a Euro MPs from his own Christian democrat party. Flemish Euro MP Ivo Belet has taken M Juncker to task for claiming that the importance of English, a language that originated in a cold and wet island off the coast of north western European and is now spoken across the globe, is on the wane.

Mr Belet, a former journalist at this very broadcaster, notes that the position of English is "unassailable" and anybody who now believes that French is fast gaining ground is delusional. M Juncker chose to speak the language of Voltaire at the conference in Italy when he made his disparaging comments. The commission president told his audience how he had racked his brains while deciding whether to address them in English or French, but had finally opted for Gallic as slowly but surely English was losing importance.

Mr Belet also noted that M Juncker was getting back at British PM Theresa May after what he calls the leaked and unpleasant conversation that the two had in London two weeks ago. The Euro MP does not believe that English will lose ground in the EU, because it has such a commanding position. Mr Belet remembers his internship in the European Parliament two decades ago when English, French and German were the main languages. Today, he says, English stands head and shoulders above the rest.

He adds that informal talks in European institutions invariably occur in English. When time is of the essence and there is no time for translations work papers and resolutions about current affairs are only drawn up in English.

Official documents are translated into 24 official languages including English. This will remain so after the UK exits the EU as for historical reasons English is also an official language in the Irish Republic and Malta, the only island ever to be awarded the George Cross.

When people of different nationalities - Mr Belet cites Spaniards and Hungarians - meet in the European institutions English is also used. Most colleagues and officials understand and speak it and it has become a true lingua franca says Mr Belet as he dips into Latin. This has become even more the case after the accession of east European nations.

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