Make English an official language in Luxembourg, petition urges
English should become one of Luxembourg’s official languages as a means of attracting more international talent, according to a public petition that marks a new effort to launch a debate over the country’s congested linguistic make-up.
The petition, which opened for signatures on Tuesday, comes two years after a similar appeal failed to garner enough support to progress. Just 1,365 people backed the proposal in 2019, way below the minimum threshold of 4,500 required for the issue to be discussed in parliament.
The latest petition calls for the addition of English as an official language, joining the current trio of Luxembourgish, French and German. That would “attract non-French speaking talent” and promote “global integration,” the petition states, in a country where just over half of the population are foreigners, a figure which rises to 70% in the capital.
“Not speaking French remains an important barrier in business (in particular the banking sector) and in daily life. French no longer serves as the common language in the country because English has taken hold. The country could attract more talent if French was no longer a barrier,” wrote Tolga Saglik, who launched the petition.
Deputies are required to discuss any petition that gathers at least 4,500 signatures within a period of 42 days, with some proposals becoming law as a result.
The status of languages is a frequent source of petitions. Another petition, also currently open for signatures, opposes any change to the requirement to pass a test in Luxembourgish as a pre-requisite for citizenship. It comes just weeks after a petition urging the government to drop the obligation to learn Luxembourgish and instead offer the citizenship exam in French or German failed to obtain enough signatures.
In 2016, a petition calling for Luxembourgish to become the first official language in the country's Constitution received a record breaking 14,500 signatures. However, the issue did not progress in Luxembourg's Chamber of Deputies.
Luxembourgish is the most common language spoken at home in the country but French is the dominant language at work, a 2019 study by national statistics agency Statec found.
However, demand for English is growing with more than half of all vacancies posted by the country’s job agency Adem this year asking for English-language skills. English could become the dominant workplace language in Luxembourg in future, University of Luxembourg sociologist Fernand Fehlen said in April.
The latest petition on English is one of 16 which opened for signatures on Tuesday covering a wide spectrum of subjects, including a demand to reduce the residency requirement from 20 years to 10 years prior to gaining Luxembourgish citizenship.