Lehtikuva

“I speak German on the coast. French is no longer tolerated.”

In an interview with Belgium’s financial dailies De Tijd and L'Echo European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, a Luxembourger, says that he chooses to speak German on what he calls the Belgian coast, because French is no longer tolerated. The European commission president’s bizarre pronouncements receive short shrift from at least one Francophone lawmaker, who insists he is exaggerating.

Head for the Flemish coast, to De Panne and Koksijde, and you might struggle to find waiting staff who speak Dutch.  Labour shortages mean many seasonal jobs are filled by French nationals from over the border, who often have no Dutch.  So you can imagine Herr Juncker’s words have raised an eyebrow or two!

Jean-Claude Juncker it appears holidays in Middelkerke where he has noticed a very different state of affairs.  “For 30 years I was able to order at the baker’s and butcher’s in French, but today it’s no longer accepted. So I speak German.  That’s not a problem.  I think it’s ridiculous.”

Francophone lawmaker and former junior minister Catherine Fonck (Francophone Christian democrat) believes the Luxembourger is exaggerating: “Make an effort to speak Dutch and you notice that the vast majority of the Flemish are very hospitable” she says on Twitter.  “Sometimes they then even start speaking French!”