Erkki Bahovski, the Editor-in-Chief of the Estonian foreign policy magazine Diplomaatia, said on Sunday that the importance of the English language would be diminished if the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union.
Former British Prime Minister John Major said last week in Berlin that the chances of Britain leaving the EU now stand at 50-50. According to Major, there will be no return once the UK has decided, ERR radio news reported.
Bahovski brought out two aspects in relation to possible Britain’s withdrawal.
“First of all, British officials would leave EU institutions, which will diminish the number of native English speakers,” he said.
At present, the main working languages in the EU are English and French, and to lesser extent German. English as one of the official languages would remain, because of the membership of Ireland and Malta, both of which have it as the state language.
“It is highly likely that French and German would start to dominate. It would spell a bad news for our officials because Estonians usually speak better English than French or German,” Bahovski said.
“In Brussels, French is currently important as well, but speaking English as one of the major languages well, gives a certain advantage to Estonians. If the EU used English in communication less than it does now, it would be a disadvantage in getting the message across in the world,” he added.
According to Bahovski, leaving the EU would put the UK in a different geopolitical perspective.
“In the last 500 years, Britain has always made sure to avoid a situation where one power is dominant in Europe. Either it has been the balancing power or throwing an extra weight behind a weaker one on the continent. The UK supported the enlargement of the EU, to counterbalance the French-German axis. But by leaving the EU, Britain would distance itself from her previous policies,” Bahovski explained.
“Germany would clearly become the dominant country on the continental Europe, because of the relative weakness of France, and Britain would become isolated,” he noted.