English becomes Europe’s second language according to survey

English has become Europe’s second language of choice with two thirds of people in the continent able to speak it, according to a survey. The study found that English is the first foreign language studied in secondary schools in every country outside Britain and Ireland.

The results of the survey are a particular blow to the French, who recently launched a failed bid for their language to be made the sole official language of the EU headquarters in Brussels, claiming their mother tongue was “more precise”.

However the report by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics body found that only 12 per cent of people wanted to be French speakers, compared to 66 per cent for English and 20 per cent for German. “English is far ahead of any other as the first choice as a foreign language,” the report said.

“Behind English, people are choosing to learn German and Russian. Knowledge of French as a foreign language is low.” It has also prompted calls for the EU to cut back on the £1 billion it spends every year translating official documents into the organisation’s 23 recognised languages.