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EU Hints It May Stop Speaking English To Spite UK

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06/27/2016

It has now become abundantly clear that the bureaucrats at the EU are doing everything they can to punish the UK for voting to leave the EU. 

Even before the referendum, German finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble threatened the UK and claimed it could never get single-market access to the EU. In other words, the UK would never be granted the sort of access that non-EU members Norway and Switzerland already have. 

Following the election, EU Parliament President Martin Schulz raged at the UK declaring he wanted the UK out as soon as possible, claiming that the UK was holding the EU "hostage." Schulz, of course, is the same person who condemned the Poles for daring to elect someone that Schulz doesn't like. Soon after, Brussels launched a probe against the Poles, and other Europhile politicians called for sanctions against Poland for not electing the correct people. 

This week, the sour grapes reached a new level when Danuta Hübner, the head of the European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee, declared that English will not be used by the EU once the UK leaves. Hübner apparently was able to keep a straight face when she declared: “'We have a regulation … where every EU country has the right to notify one official language,' Hübner said. 'The Irish have notified Gaelic, and the Maltese have notified Maltese, so you have only the U.K. notifying English.'"

"'If we don’t have the U.K., we don’t have English,' Hübner said"

The EU's lust for revenge against the UK is clear enough, but it's laugh-out-loud funny to suggest that people in the EU-member states of Malta and Ireland will suddenly prefer to conduct business in Maltese and Gaelic.

Nearly 90 percent of the Maltese speak English as a second language, and nearly all Irish speak English as a first language. The idea that the Irish would rather do business in the Gaelic language to send a message to English voters is not exactly plausible. 

So, not only does the EU still have two member states that are essentially English-speaking countries, but the idea that the EU would cut itself off linguistically from many of the world's richest countries is a non-starter. In fact, four of the top-ten largest economies on earth (i.e., USA, UK, Canada, and India) employ English either as the primary language or as the lingua franca of business and science. 

Moreover, English is apparently already the day-to-day business language in Brussels. Assuming the UK ever actually leaves the EU, there's no danger of English going anywhere.

It remains to be seen if this latest threat about English will be about as strong as the threat to cut off trade with the UK. Numerous threats that the UK would be marginalized have already come to naught, and in the case of the US and Germany, both countries have already signaled their desire to maintain close trade ties with the UK following the Brexit vote. This comes after President Obama had threatened to put the UK "at the back of the queue" in trade negotiations. As the Express in the UK reported last week: "Germany has joined the United States and Canada in reaching out to Britain to stress the importance of trade deals with the UK outside of the European Union." A spokesman for Obama, however, has attempted to save face, and maintains that the US is still committed to sticking it to the UK. 

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for Mises Wire and The Austrian, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado, and was the economist for the Colorado Division of Housing from 2009 to 2014. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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