What is the official language of the European Union?

Mi5 Mick   Sunday, October 10, 2004, 02:20 GMT
You're 100% right.
Easterner   Sunday, October 10, 2004, 02:59 GMT
>>Did you guys know that in the next 100 years, 90% of the world's languages will be extict? Just something to think about. <<

The question is, which ones. Judging from birthrates, Arabic or Indian languages or Chinese are not among the likely candidates, and English will at least will vaguely be remembered by quite a number of people, along with Spanish. Maybe by that time we won't even need speech at all to communicate, our computers and what-not will do it for us. Another option: sending digital information which is transformed from brainwaves through built-in signal converters. Not looking forward to that brave new world, though. I would definitely like a nice speech at my funeral, in my own sweet native tongue, before it becomes extinct, and buried along with me...

Oops, I keep having nightmares, guess I should see a psychiatrist...
Easterner   Sunday, October 10, 2004, 03:07 GMT
>>I don't think Europeans wake up in the morning and say to themselves "gee, I have all this free time on my hands, I think I'll learn another language so I can be a better person" They learn it because there is a financial incetive or simply an incentive to make their life easier.<<

Maybe not a better person, but one with a wider spectre and with a first-hand knowledge of more than on culture. At any rate, once you have learnt three or four languages, it may happen that you can't do without the pleasure of it. At any rate, that's the case for me with Italian and very likely will be with Spanish if I really have a time to dip into it. But I'm getting worried, I'll bring it up at my next session with my addictologist.
Easterner   Sunday, October 10, 2004, 03:19 GMT
Animal and plant species are becoming extinct every day, and languages may also follow in their wake. But until then, I like to take a walk in an English forest with fields of Spanish, French, Catalan, German, Polish etc. flowers all around, listening to the song of Chinese and Italian birds. You should take the best advantages from the curse of Babel. But whether we speak more languages or just one, whichever that may be, that alone will not make us a whit happier. On the other hand, communicating positive things will. So I will definitely settle down on that from now on. Take this post as the first trace of this determination.
Adam   Sunday, October 10, 2004, 12:02 GMT
Now that the World Trade Organization is administering the Uruguay Round of trade liberalization agreements, the EU's common external tariff has fallen from 5.7 percent to 3.6 percent. This should not constitute a prohibitive barrier even to a Britain that was not in the EU, given its more bearable social costs and provided it retained control of its own currency. The fear of being frozen out of Europe by vindictive community bureaucrats is now, I believe, a complete fraud, though one would not know it to listen to the alarmist comments of many of Britain's political leaders and much of its media.

Indeed, the facts suggest that it is rather the other way around. The annual cost of Britain's adherence to the EU is nearly [pounds]10 billion in gross budgetary contributions. While almost half of this is returned in EU spending, it is spent, as former Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont has pointed out, "on things which the U.K. government would not choose to spend money on." Higher food prices in the U.K. because of the Common Agricultural Policy cost Britain rather more than [pounds]6 billion annually, though again about half of that is rebated directly to British farmers. The overall cost of the EU to Britain then is between [pounds]8 and [pounds]12 billion, or around 1.5 percent of GDP. There are in addition the significant costs imposed by EU regulation, and the heavy political price of eroding sovereignty - which includes the tacit encouragement of provincial separatism, as Scottish and Welsh nationalists envision receiving the sort of direct grants enjoyed by Ireland.

Despite these costs, and the [pounds]3 billion annual trade deficit the U.K. runs with the EU, there are still those who deflect such unpleasantries with the noble hope that Britain will ultimately Thatcherize Europe rather than be de-Thatcherized by it. The truth is, however, that the United Kingdom could now probably assert a stronger and more positive influence on the European Union from outside than it could by going further into it. Free from its costs and interferences, Britain could export successfully into it, thus demonstrating the superior competitiveness of the so-called Anglo-Saxon model. For since the Uruguay Round, attempts by the EU to limit imports from non-members can only be sustained if they are unanimously upheld by multi-national trade panels, which is very unlikely.

As a consequence of all this, it would be logical for Britain to negotiate entry into NAFTA, which will probably be renamed and which is already negotiating with the European Economic Area and European Free Trade Association, as well as with Chile. Such an expanding NAFTA would have every commercial advantage over the EU. It is based on the Anglo-American free-market model of relatively restrained taxation and social spending, which is the principal reason why, over the last fifteen years, the United States and Canada together have created a net average of two million more new jobs per year than have the countries of the European Union. NAFTA, as its name implies, is a free-trade area only. The United States will not make any significant concessions of sovereignty and does not expect other countries to do so. A trading bloc based on NAFTA and the more advanced South American countries could also expand into eastern Europe faster than the EU. Such a bloc, after all, would not be encumbered by such impediments as the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, and its powerful urge to protect onerous French and German social costs.

There is no need to repeat here the nature of the Anglo-American special relationship, which is both broad and deep, historical and contemporary. It is enough to point out that none of the continental European countries has a particular affinity with the United States and Canada, or anything remotely comparable to Britain's dramatic modern historic intimacy with North America.

Beyond that, an even closer British association with North America could serve a broader, and very European, purpose. The British public's fear of loss of jurisdiction and socialist backsliding in a federal Europe is well founded - and Britain, by staying outside, could be the example that might prevent the EU as a whole from smothering all its fully subscribing members with centralized Euro-socialism.

When the possibility of an Atlantic option for Britain is broached, the cry goes up in British Eurofederalist circles that the United Kingdom would be dominated by the United States. The words "fifty-first state" are often uttered derisively, even though any such association would be a loose one - and as if there were not a much greater danger of Britain being intruded upon by the Europeans. In fact, Britain's sovereignty would be in much better condition than it now is. Canada, whose distinctiveness from the northern American states is fairly tenuous apart from Quebec, has lost no additional sovereignty after entering into the free-trade agreement, even though over 40 percent of Canada's GNP is derived from trade with the United States - more than four times the percentage of British GNP taken up by trade with the EU. More important, Canada suffers none of the jurisdictional intrusions that are routine in the British slouch to Eurofederalism.

The Lights Go On in Washington

One of the reasons so few Britons think in terms of an Atlantic option is that few people in the United States or Canada encourage them to do so. True, the leaders of the opposition in Canada last year urged a NAFTA invitation for Britain, but just as the British are stuck in some unhelpful intellectual patterns, so too are many Americans.

The United States has been a supporter of an "ever closer European Union", to use the parlance of the European treaties, since the Truman administration. The initial motivation for such a policy was clear: by promoting European cooperation and integration, the United States hoped to contain the Soviet threat and avoid having to intervene a third time in a European war. If European strategic unity as represented by NATO was good, then so must be its economic - and ultimately political - unity. The American conception of European integration was thus of a piece with that of its European founders and promoters, a parallel thought natural among allies joined together in the contest with Moscow. Indeed, as that contest endured, grew more intense, and spread throughout the world in the late 1950s and 1960s, U.S. enthusiasm for European cooperation and eventually the European Common Market and Community steadily increased. With it went an urge to propel Britain into Europe, essentially to strengthen West European backbones as Cold War allies.

Over the years, the practice of America pushing Britain toward Europe continued, and it has not been abandoned since the end of the Cold War. This is partly out of habit and understandable intellectual inertia. It may be, too, that the present U.S. administration has felt, rightly, that Britain would be a force for good government in Europe. With the Continentals mired in a bureaucratically induced slog of low-growth, high unemployment economics, it makes at least superficial sense to hope that post-Thatcherite Britain could teach them something about basic economic arithmetic, without the stigma of being importers of American capitalism. Tony Blair has hinted at this: a British Euro-capitalism.

In all of this, no argument offered by Americans or other foreigners on behalf of full British integration with Europe has had much to do with British national interests. And the least the U.S. government should do is stop trying to push Britain in a direction in which the British people show little inclination to go.

Happily, there is some evidence that more discerning Americans are now having second thoughts about the course Europe is pursuing. Prominent administration officials such as the Deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers have cautioned against the dangers of bringing in EMU without accompanying structural labor market and long-term fiscal reforms. The American experience put political union ahead of economic union, and many Americans - including senior legislators and members of the current administration - have indicated their belief that trying to do things in reverse order is hazardous.

At the same time, some senior American foreign policy experts are becoming concerned about the likely influence of a centralized Europe - or of a failed attempt at a centralized Europe - on the Western alliance and on the conduct of U.S. strategic policy. Europe's shabby and dangerous mistreatment of Turkey, the Middle East's most important country - in which the leading European powers cravenly hide behind the Greeks - is a case in point, and a warning of the kind of behavior that might characterize the new Europe. (It is, it should be noted, in stark contrast to the much more enlightened U.S. and Canadian treatment of Mexico.)

Adam   Sunday, October 10, 2004, 12:04 GMT
Unlike the rest of Europe we have a long and unique alliance and "friendship" with the USA. We also do much more trade with the USA than those countries in Europe and I believe that after Germany they are our second largest trading partner.
However we are also in Europe and part of the EU. We do not leave the EU despite its many setbacks as we can use it to influence Europe. For example, by voting for the new countries to join the EU in May 2004 we weakened the French hold over the EU. Poland for example now objects on some issues which saves the UK having to do it. Also the ascension of these new countries to the EU has made English the dominant language in the EU and is changing the French dominated culture of the EU. This was the use of the classic British policy of preventing any one power being too strong in Europe. By staying in Europe we benefit from the free trade zone within Europe but unlike the rest of Europe are at a disadvantage as we do much more trade with the USA and former colonies which is taxed. At the moment we also serve as a go between the USA and Europe because of our unique position and benefit from co-operation with both like no other nation does. My personnel feelings are that the UK is much closer culturally and politically to America and that unless Old Europe changes and dumps socialism it will suffer terminal decline. We in Britain will use our position in the EU to prevent a Federal Europe and possible French dominated super state created by paranoid fears of competition, fear of cultural decline and a desire to try to beat the Americans.

We do not join the Euro as we do not need to and we do not want to. I could write a long essay on this but I do not have the time at the minute. The main economic reason for this is that joining the euro would mean giving up control of interest rates. Interest rates are the primary and most effective tool that can be used to combat inflation and consumer spending and influence demand in the economy. Unlike the rest of Europe the UK has a far higher number of owner occupiers of property. As a result there are many people with mortgages on which interest is charged. If the economy is growing too fast like at the present time, consumer is too high and inflation is beginning to occur interest rates are increased. This means that all those people with mortgages incur higher interest rate payments and as a result have far less disposable income. So people spend less and demand in the economy falls. This serves to slow down inflation and the economy. This can be illustrated by the actions taken by the Bank of England recently. They have been consistently increasing interest rates by roughly a ΒΌ of a % each month and as a result the level of house prices increases has fell and demand is slowly falling and the economy is beginning to slow down without crashing into recession. This clever and precise method of macro economic policy is the most important influence on demand in the British economy. Joining the Euro would mean giving up control of interest rates to the European central bank. As a result you have to have a one size fits all policy for the whole of Europe which is ludicrous. You have the current problems where areas such as Ireland are experiencing economic growth and need to increase interest rates to combat inflation and slow the economy down contrasting with France and Germany who are both in deep recession and need interest rates to be cut. As a result of the Euro the countries cannot tackle their problems.
In the UK we are no longer worried about the scare stories about not joining the Euro. When we didn&#8217;t join at the launch of the Euro we were told how our economy would collapse and we would be forced to accept the Euro. However the opposite is true. France and Germany are in deep recession with economic growth barely reaching 1% where as in the UK our economy this year is running at 3% growth and is growing so fast we are having to slow it down. We have seen how having the Euro does not significantly cut prices. Instead when currencies where changed in Europe prices rose as shopkeepers took advantage of the confusion over the switch to the Euro and increased prices.
Also in Britain we like the Pound. It is a source of pride and we like the Queen and emblems of our country and its great people on our currency not a map of Europe with a very dubiously shaped Scandinavia ; )
Also the cost of changing to the Euro would be huge as cash registers, tills, vending machines, etc will all have to be changed.
It will also lead to job losses for those who play the money markets, those who deal in foreign currency and those who print and destroy British currency.
Many also see giving up our Pound as a move too far in the process of European integration which some Federalists and countries seem to be pushing more and more for. Joining the Euro would mean more power over Britain to the Socialist, federalist, wasteful and corrupt EU which most Brits will not let happen.
The arguments for the Euro in Britain are flawed at every level. Economically, socially the Euro is not needed nor wanted in Britain.
Long live the Pound.
Damian   Sunday, October 10, 2004, 15:21 GMT
<<The arguments for the Euro in Britain are flawed at every level. Economically, socially the Euro is not needed nor wanted in Britain>>

Local newspaper referendums (referenda?) have been held in some parts of the UK recent months with predictable results, all of them the same...an emphatic NO to the Euro. I managed to trawl up 3 of the results:

Are you in favour of the the UK replacing the Pound with the Euro:

Herefordshire No: 83% Yes: 17%
West Suffolk No: 79% Yes: 21%
South Yorkshire No: 87% Yes 13%

The only advantage most Brits see in the Euro is that there will no longer be the issue of currency exchanges for travel purposes, seeing as millions of us go abroad each year.

Nothing to do with language really, EXCEPT in the context of the generally colourful language heard in the average UK pub whenever the question of the Euro is discussed by the regulars over their pints....not for sensitive ears, but after a few who cares?

Adam...you mean well but you take up a hell of a lot of forum space...why not just post links then anyone who is remotely interested in the UK's affairs can log into them?
Jaro   Sunday, October 10, 2004, 16:55 GMT
What does it have to do with the official language of the EU?
Damian   Sunday, October 10, 2004, 17:33 GMT
Not a lot...in fact, nothing really.

Whatever happened to Europish from earlier threads? Has that notion been scuppered? Sunk without trace in mid Channel?

Pity!.....it would have let English off the hook, and we could have claimed it back as our own again.
Damian   Sunday, October 10, 2004, 17:52 GMT
Well, this link has SOME vague connection with this thread topic:


A bit of a spoof really, as the following letter suggests, but that's Mrs Mills by all accounts.
ron   Monday, October 11, 2004, 12:05 GMT

As you said you are an old friend with USA, as you don't know and i will tell you why. You are their best tax payers. Germany and France have social coasts too high, yes maybe! But, i don't think you ignore USA is the country which knows 2 important things :

-Too much importations in comparison of its exportations (delocalisation with for example Levi's, Nike industries..., Private investment for retirements, wich are not totally payed by americans but......here we are....................by british people in a part. Yes my boy, this is the price to pay when your politicians waant to share benefits with americano-british investments. The system is very complex, so nyou should just try to find a few "Times" newspaper which are really clear on the subject.

At list, do you ignore T Blair has accepted to reevaluate the british social security coast, taxes will be higher.

To finish, about employment in G Britain, much more work, that's true, but about salaries, C-, so i just think you are a good slave
Damian   Monday, October 11, 2004, 21:36 GMT
It is true that Great Britain has much more in common with the USA than with any other European country and probably the UK is more similar to the USA than is any other European country. I do not refer to recent highly divisive political actions...just to national characteristics and outlook. Sometimes the English Channel (or La Manche or Der Kanal or whatever you like to call that 22 miles wide stretch of water) is far, far wider than is the Atlantic Ocean. It is not just because English and American are very similar languages....identical in many respects... but there are also some cultural links too. Some Brits like the (apparent) close affiliation with the USA, some most emphatically don't. Some Brits like being Europeans, some most emphatically don't. I would hazard a guess and say that the Americans themselves are equally divided over many such issues....it's what makes life interesting.