London: The English language may be one of the casualties of Brexit as it emerged that no state other than the UK has registered it as a primary language among the 28 countries within the European Union.
Protesters demonstrate outside Downing Street following the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Pics/Getty Images
English has been the top choice for EU institutions but Britain’s vote to leave the union last week could trigger a ban on its use. “We have a regulation where every EU country has the right to notify one official language,” Danuta Hubner, the Polish MEP or Member of European Parliament who heads the European Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee, said in Brussels yesterday.
“The Irish have notified Gaelic and the Maltese have notified Maltese, so you have only the UK notifying English,” she said in reference to the fact that English is in everyday use in member countries Ireland and Malta.
Hubner said that although English was the “dominant language” used by the EU civil servants and MEPs, in legal terms “if you do not have the UK, you do not have English”, The Times reported.
Regulations would have to be changed to retain the language, requiring a unanimous vote from the 27 states. The EU has 24 official languages but for daily business, the European Commission and council of ministers use English, French and German.
“We have a series of member states that speak English, and English is the world language which we all accept,” said German EU commissioner Gunther Oettinger, before joking that if Scotland was to join separately, it could apply for English as their primary
While speculations over language rife, Opposition Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn lost a vote of no confidence in his leadership (172 votes to 40) but is expected to battle on to force a contest.
The European Parliament yesterday urged Britain to immediately trigger the divorce process after the shock Brexit vote. The “will expressed by the people needs to be entirely and fully respected, starting with an immediate activation of Article 50,” said a resolution at an emergency session.
'I am still alive'
“I’m still alive,” quipped the British monarch Queen Elizabeth when asked about her health, in her first round of public engagements since Britain voted to leave the EU.
Queen Elizabeth II in Bushmills, Northern Ireland
The Queen is on a two-day trip to Northern Ireland, where Martin McGuinness, deputy First Minister of the British-ruled province, asked her “Hello, are you well?”, to which she replied, “I’m still alive anyway”.