TIME E.U.

What Language Will Be Used for Brexit Negotiations? Not English, Necessarily

German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks on as she leaves the European Union leaders summit on October 21, 2016 at the European Council, in Brussels.
Emmanuel Dunande—AFP/Getty Images German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks on as she leaves the European Union leaders summit on October 21, 2016 at the European Council, in Brussels.

“If I’m correctly informed, everybody is allowed to speak his own language”

Confusion reigned on Friday about what language will be used in the looming negotiations over Britain’s departure from the European Union.

A Reuters report claimed on Friday that the E.U.’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier wanted the Brexit talks to be conducted in French rather than English—the bloc’s main working language for the past two decades. To use French would be a shift from usual practice in Brussels.

That prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel to she wasn’t aware of an official language for divorce talks. “If I’m correctly informed, everybody is allowed to speak his own language,” Merkel said after an E.U. summit in Brussels, according to Bloomberg. “Since Mr Barnier is a French citizen, it’s as little strange to me that he speaks French as it is that I speak German” Merkel added.

Barnier later denied ever stating his preferred negotiating language, saying that he works in English as much as French. But he didn’t explicitly say English would be used:

A spokesmen for May declined to comment on whether English will be the primary language used in the negotiations, saying “we will not comment until we receive a formal request,” Reuters reports. May promised to officially begin Brexit talks with the E.U. by the end of March.

[Reuters]

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