Brexit deal ‘limits’ UK’s ‘ability to be sovereign’ says Beaune
Europe minister Clement Beaune suggested it would be incomprehensible to allow English to continue as the language of choice for most eurocrats. Paris has taken a hardline position against Britain’s decision to quit the bloc, and has used the divorce to strengthen its own position at the heart of Brussels decision making. Speaking at a news conference today, Mr Beaune said: “It would be even less comprehensible after Brexit that we all operate in an approximate English.
“Let’s re-accustom ourselves to speaking our languages.”
To the consternation of the French, English remains the dominant language for EU civil servants and MEPs.
Brussels has 23 official languages, but for daily business the European Commission and Council use English, French and German.
Even after Brexit, English remains the most popular foreign language in all but five European countries.
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EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivered 81 per cent of her flagship State of the Union speech in English, compared to just seven per cent in French.
French politicians have repeatedly led calls since the Brexit vote to end its dominance.
Mr Beaune, a close ally of President Emmanuel Macron, has previously branded the Commission’s reluctance to scrap English as an “obstacle to understanding and adherence”.
The French position was notably backed by former Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, a supporter of a “United States of Europe”.
But their protests have been waved away by Commission officials, who insist “even after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU, English remains one of the official languages of Ireland and Malta”.
Discussing the end of the transition period, Mr Beaune insisted trade between the EU and UK could never be the same.
He claimed disruption would be inevitable, adding: “Trade between the EU and the UK will not be the same, in its simplicity and perhaps also in its scale.”
But he admitted there are some “complications and difficulties that have to be resolved”.
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Mr Beaune said French fishermen were burdened by “administrative formalities” of the new customs checks.
“We have been in contact with British authorities in order that this is accelerated,” he said.
The Frenchman, however, said the UK-EU deal would likely “serve as a model” for future agreements brokered by Brussels.
He said the “level playing field” provisions to counter anti-competitive changes of legislation and market access linked to respect for EU rules make it a benchmark agreement.
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France’s view was reinforced by European Council President Charles Michel in a speech earlier today.
The top eurocrat said: “On Brexit, we stood firm and unified, right from the beginning.
“Access to our single market of 450 million consumers is only possible by respecting our standards and the rules of the game.”
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