Promoting French in Europe

The Europe of 27 is made up of 202 regions and 23 official languages shared by 493 million citizens, of whom 70 million are French speakers and 12 million are learning French. This mosaic of peoples, cultures and languages is a living laboratory of cultural and linguistic diversity on a global scale.

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs is fully aware of the issues at stake and is actively engaged in promoting both multilingualism and the French language in Europe.

MAE policy is to encourage our European partners to develop compulsory teaching of two modern languages in their national education systems and, more specifically, to consolidate bilingual French education schemes in secondary and higher education. This it does through cooperation on in-service teacher training: accreditation of examiners for French certification of French as a foreign language, based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), and the use of digital technology, all designed to make the teaching of French more attractive.

The multiannual plan for French in Europe

If French is to remain a language of international communication, its position within European Union institutions must continue to be assured. In 2002, France signed a Multiannual Action Plan for French in Europe with the French-speaking Community of Belgium, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the International Organisation of la Francophonie (OIF). If French is to be used more widely within the EU, then it must be taught to non-French speaking civil servants transferred to Brussels from member States and, in view of possible enlargement, to those from EU neighbours.

French teaching is provided in national capitals and in Brussels itself, for specialist audiences; interpreters and translators, administrators, diplomats and civil servants, naturally, but also for journalists and students at diplomatic academies working closely with European institutions.