Petition urges Luxembourg government to make English official language

Petition urges Luxembourg government to make English official language
Tiny nation currently has three official languages: Luxembourgish, French and German

A petition for English to become one of Luxembourg’s official languages has opened for signatures.

Currently, Luxembourg has three official languages: Luxembourgish, French and German. Luxembourgish is the grand duchy’s national language, while French and German are recognised as administrative languages.

The public petition has suggested that adding English as a fourth official language could attract more international talent to the country. It opened for signatures on Tuesday and comes two years after a similar appeal failed to gain enough backing.

A similar proposal, put forward in 2019, received just 1,365 signatures which was far below the minimum threshold of 4,500 signatures required for the issue to be discussed in parliament.

In a country where just over half of the population are foreign, the petition states that English would “attract non-French speaking talent” and promote “global integration”.

“Not speaking French remains an important barrier in business (in particular the banking sector) and in daily life. French no longer serves as the common language in the country because English has taken hold. The country could attract more talent if French was no longer a barrier,” wrote Tolga Saglik, who launched the petition.

The petition adds that “around half of the population doesn’t speak one of the three official languages”. It does not, however, back up this claim.

Any petition that gathers at least 4,500 signatures is required to be discussed in parliament within a period of 42 days, and some proposals become law as a result.

Luxembourgish is the most common language spoken at home in the country, but French is the most common language spoken in the world of work, a 2019 study by national statistics agency Statec found.

According to a 2018 study by the Ministry of National Education, 98 per cent of the Luxembourg population speaks French while 80 per cent speak English, 78 per cent speak German and 77 per cent speak Luxembourgish.

English is used as the language for business and finance in the country, according to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg’s official website.

It adds that English “is very frequently used at meetings among people of different nationalities” as well as being the “lingua franca of the large international community working at the European institutions“ present in the country.