France is committed to promoting the French language and multilingualism
• Promoting the French language : a priority for France
• France’s commitment through bilateral action
• France’s commitment in multilateral bodies
• Action within the European Union
Promoting the French language, a priority for France
France’s commitment to the French language is above all reflected in the International Strategy for the French Language and multilingualism, unveiled by President Macron on 20 March 2018. The strategy aims to restore the French language’s position and role in the world, with respect for plurilingualism, as an asset in globalization.
“Francophonie must provide space for other languages, particularly other European languages, but also any language weakened or isolated by globalization.” Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, 20 March 2018, Institut de France
Three major projects supported by President Macron aim to promote French as a global language, contributing to the Strategy’s implementation:
• The Cité Internationale de la Langue Française (International Centre for the French Language) in Villers-Cotterêts, due to open in Autumn 2022, offers a varied cultural programme building bridges between approaches, disciplines and perspectives around the French language.
• The États Généraux du Livre en Langue Française (Conference on Publishing in French), from 23 to 24 September 2021, at the Cité de la Culture in Tunis, brought together Francophone authors contributing to the development of Francophonie. This event was followed, the next two days, by a global congress of writers chaired by Leïla Slimani, the personal representative of the President of the Republic for Francophonie. At the Conference on Publishing in French, the Culture Ministers of Belgium (Federation Wallonia-Brussels), Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Madagascar, Monaco, Quebec, Switzerland, Tunisia and Vietnam adopted a joint declaration, undertaking to draft and implement policies conducive to the conference’s conclusions.
• The Dictionnaire des Francophones (Francophonie Dictionary), a collaborative online project to gather the wealth of the French spoken across the world (more than 500,000 terms and expressions of spoken French from around the world). The Dictionary is a response to two ambitions from the 2018 strategy: promoting Francophonie using digital tools and fostering the diversity of the expressions and usages of French.
Teaching and learning French
Having issued almost 10 million certifications and diplomas in the French language since 1985, the French educational network and the dual cultural network (Instituts Français and Alliances Françaises) worldwide contribute considerably to promoting the French language. In addition, a substantial increase has been made in the number of LabelFrancEducation accreditations by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs of schools with high-quality Francophone bilingual sections, in order to support the teaching of French. As of 2018, the network included 285 schools, and it has now grown to include 523.
Through its network of French schools abroad, France also invests considerable funds in teaching in and of French to almost 380,000 students, including 120,000 French students and 359,000 foreign nationals, in more than 550 schools.
Education and language cooperation
Lastly, France contributes to the French language’s influence in the world through active support of its cultural cooperation and action network. On a daily basis, more than 5,250 staff members, 137 cooperation and cultural action sections in embassies, 93 Instituts Français and 440 Alliance Française branches work on educational and linguistic cooperation in different countries.
France is fully committed to the promotion of the fundamental principle of multilingualism within international organizations. Through its Permanent Representations to them, France ensures respect for multilingualism requirements and works to highlight the benefits of linguistic diversity, alongside its state and institutional partners and other linguistic groups. France is also attentive to developments in organizations’ tracking and promotion mechanisms and measures.
Through the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF), France supports language training programmes for officials and diplomats and works, alongside Belgium, Luxembourg and the Federation Wallonia-Brussels within the “Monitoring, alert and action mechanism for the French language and multilingualism in international organizations” launched by the Secretary General of La Francophonie in December 2019.
France also led the adoption of the “Advocacy for the French language and multilingualism in European institutions” initiative adopted at the 2018 Francophonie Summit in Bucharest. In preparation for the upcoming Francophonie Summit in November 2022, France is working to promote the adoption of a Declaration on the French Language.
Action within the European Union
French vigilance and efforts in Brussels
France promotes linguistic diversity within European institutions, the languages of which are governed by Regulation No 1/1958 of 15 April 1958 and Article 41 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union of 2000, which provides that “every person may write to the institutions of the Union in one of the languages of the Treaties and must have an answer in the same language.” Promotion of multilingualism within the European Union is stated as an explicit goal in the French President’s International Strategy for the French Language and Multilingualism. The European dimension of these efforts was recalled in the President’s speech at the French Conference of Ambassadors in 2019.
In both Brussels and Paris, France exercises its duty of vigilance as to respect for language usage and reports any failingsto the bodies in charge. Via theGeneral Secretariat for European Affairs (SGAE), France contributes €1.8 million annually to French interpretation costs for Council Working Parties, in order to ensure all preparatory bodies where interpretation can be provided receive it in French.
Moreover, France runs the Millefeuille project through the Alliance Française, which offers French classes to European civil servants and the staff of Permanent Representations to the European institutions.
The internal French in European Institutions guide updated by the SGAE is the reference as to the use of French by civil servants.
French Presidency of the Council of the European Union
During the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union from January to June 2022, France made linguistic diversity and the French language in the EU a priority. This involved a series of three projects:
• From April to July 2021: at the request of the French authorities, a working group led by Professor Christian Lequesne met to draft a report that was delivered to the Minister Delegate for Francophonie and the Minister of State for European Affairs in October 2021.
• Autumn 2021: the recommendations from the Lequesne report formed the basis for an action plan on linguistic diversity in European institutions.
• 15 March 2022: Ministerial Conference on Linguistic Diversity and the French Language in the European Union (PDF - 117 KB), bringing together Member States, EU representatives and civil society.
The French Presidency’s language doctrine stressed multilingualism and the French language, in contexts ranging from the languages used in informal ministerial meetings and expert meetings to the publication of documents.
The Millefeuille programme has been expanded in response to increased demand.
Updated: May 2022