Can there ever be a real EU single telecommunications market, a digital single market or, indeed, a seamless and comprehensive single market (with its corresponding international free trade, including the TTIP with the US), if France and other protectionist member states block progress and carve out wider exceptions regarding the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital?
Potentially creating a gaping hole in business opportunities, the French Lescure report – Acte II de l’exception culturelle – have sown doubts about a dynamic European future with regard to services in the digital era.
The panicky fear behind France’s linguistic policies is somewhat baffling for someone from a Nordic country or one of the even smaller member states of the European Union. The 2012 Special Eurobarometer 386 Europeans and their Languages gave a rough indication of French as the fourth most used mother tongue and the second most widely spoken foreign language in the EU: “In accordance with the EU population, the most widely spoken mother tongue is German (16%), followed by Italian and English (13% each), French (12%), then Spanish and Polish (8% each)… The five most widely spoken foreign languages remain English (38%), French (12%), German (11%), Spanish (7%) and Russian (5%).”
According to the CIA World Factbook the eleven most common first languages in the world included four EU languages (Spanish, English, Portuguese and German), but not French: “Mandarin Chinese 12.44%, Spanish 4.85%, English 4.83%, Arabic 3.25%, Hindi 2.68%, Bengali 2.66%, Portuguese 2.62%, Russian 2.12%, Japanese 1.8%, Standard German 1.33%, Javanese 1.25% (2009 est.)”
This might feel worth worrying for the French government, but to the rescue rides the Paris based Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), with 57 member states or governments and 20 observers. The OIF claims that French is fifth most widely spoken language globally and together with English the only ones present on five continents.
According to the Observatoire de la langue française (OLF) there were 220 million French speakers in the world (2010). Hardly on the brink of extinction, it would seem.
So, can anyone explain the twin phobias of markets and language?