IRELAND’S JUNIOR MINISTER for European Affairs has been diligently preparing for Ireland’s presidency of the EU in the first half of next year – by taking French lessons.
Lucinda Creighton has been taking the lessons for about 12 months, hoping to be proficient in the language by next January when Ireland takes over as head of the Council of the European Union, the grouping of ministers from each of the 27 member states.
Ireland’s presidency means it will be responsible for the preparation for the agendas for ministerial meetings – with Creighton being responsible for the regular General Affairs council meetings, involving other European affairs ministers, which carry out much of the planning work.
Copies of Creighton’s ministerial diary obtained by TheJournal.ie show that the minister has been taking regular French lessons in an attempt to lower any linguistic barriers that might impede that work.
A spokesman for Creighton said she had been taking the lessons for about a year, as had many diplomatic staff within a number of government departments who will be key to running Ireland’s presidency.
“Within both the Department of the Taoiseach, and the Department of Foreign Affairs, there’s a lot of language training for officials who’ll be chairing working groups and that sort of thing,” the spokesman said, saying Creighton felt a command of French would “be useful in itself” too.
On a day-to-day basis there is a lot of French used within the European Union within diplomatic circles… among officials at European Council level and pre-preparation, French would be quite widely used.
Though the EU has 23 official languages, English (the EU’s most widely spoken), French (an official language in all three of the EU’s political centres) and German (the EU’s most common native language) are the ones most commonly used at diplomatic level.
Creighton already speaks German, having taken it for the Leaving Cert. Her French classes were “going okay”, the spokesman said, though it was difficult to arrange regular tuition given the minister’s working schedule.
Dictionnaire: a few phrases that Lucinda might find handy
- Promissory note – billet à ordre
- Ireland is not Greece – L’Irlande n’est pas la Grèce
- Access to the markets - Accès aux marchés
- There are no plans for a second bailout - Il n’y aura pas de second plan de sauvetage*
- We are where we are - Nous sommes là où nous sommes
* Thanks to Arc Translations for the guidance!