After Brexit, English will have no legal status in the EU. But without English, the EU language wars will surely begin. It would be a horrible loss of face for the EU if they continued to use English after Brexit. Maybe the UK could claim a royalty if they did.
Each member state of the EU nominates and registers a primary language. Only the UK has registered English as a primary language. Ireland has registered Gaelic and even Malta chose Maltese.
The European Union has 24 official and working languages. They are:
Bulgarian French Maltese Croatian German Polish Czech Greek Portuguese Danish Hungarian Romanian Dutch Irish Slovak English Italian Slovenian Estonian Latvian Spanish Finnish Lithuanian Swedish
The first official language policy of what was then the European Community identified Dutch, French, German, and Italian as the official working languages of the EU.
Since then, as more countries have become part of the EU, the number of official and working languages has increased. However, there are fewer official languages than Member States, as some share common languages.
On the other hand, some regional languages, such as Catalan and Welsh, have gained a status as co-official languages of the European Union. The official use of such languages can be authorised on the basis of an administrative arrangement concluded between the Council and the requesting Member State.
Part of the ridiculous bureaucracy in Brussels is a permanent staff of 1,750 linguists, 600 support staff, 600 full-time interpreters, and a further 3,000 freelance interpreters.
French MEP’s are already calling for the removal of English after Brexit. Before the UK joined the EU (1st January 1973) the EU had Dutch French, German and Italian. Spain only joined in 1986. For English to remain a “working language” would require agreement by all member states. French dominated until Sweden, Finland and Austria tilted the balance in the 1990s. With the Eastern European members now established the resistance to French and German will be all the more obvious.
English is the most spoken second language in the EU and even in France, Germany, Spain and Italy. The dominance of English as a second language in Scandinavia and in the low countries is accompanied by a very high level of fluency in English. Without English as a unifying factor, the existing cracks and splits in the EU will not only be all the more visible, they will be positively encouraged.