'You would never find this lunacy in Paris' – German politician attacks English-speaking waiters in Berlin

'You would never find this lunacy in Paris' - German politician attacks English-speaking waiters in BerlinOne of Germany’s most prominent politcians has launched an oustpoken attack on the increasing use of the English language in every day life, and called for a crackdown. “Co-existence can only work in Germany if we all speak German,” Jens Spahn, seen by many as a potential successor to Angela Merkel, said. “We can and should expect this from every immigrant.” Mr Spahn, currently junior finance minister, reserved his greatest anger for the growing number of people who work in the German capital despite speaking no German. “It drives me up the wall the way waiters in Berlin restaurants only speak English,” he told Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper.  Comparing Germans’ often relaxed attitude to the fierce French protectiveness of their language, he added: “You would never find this kind of lunacy in Paris.” Tourists take selfies in front of the mural 'Test the Rest' by artist Birgit Kinder at a section of the former Berlin Wall called the East Side Gallery in Berlin, Germany Credit: EPA Speaking good English has long been seen as an important life skill in Germany, and children start learn the language as early as kindergarten. But the German language is increasingly becoming a political issue amid the perceived threat from immigration and globalisation. Fashionable Berlin districts such as Mitte and Prenzlauerberg have long been home to large numbers of British and American expatriates, and with restaurants and bars recruiting staff from across Europe, it is not uncommon to find daily specials advertised in English and waiters who speak only limited German. Mrs Merkel’s government has made it compulsory for the more than one million asylum-seekers who have arrived in the country since 2015 to learn German. Those who don’t risk losing their benefits and cannot win permanent residence. But no such restrictions apply to the hundreds of thousands of people from less successful economies who come to Germany in search of work under the EU’s freedom of movement rules. With Germany facing high levels of immigration, language has increasingly become an issue of identity. With people divided over what constitutes German culture, the language is the one element all sides agree on. William and Kate raise a glass to the Queen in Berlin 02:29 “This is the need to have a home, to feel at home,” Mr Spahn said. “People want to be able to know what they can expect in every day life and that things aren’t changing all the time. Not every cultural difference is an enrichment. I have to accept the growing number of headscarfs on our streets, but I do not feel enriched by it.” Three senior German MPs made international headlines this week with a letter to Mrs Merkel calling on her to challenge English’s dominance as the working language of the EU, and promote the use of German. Gunther Krichbaum, Axel Schäfer and Johannes Singhammer called for “equal use of the German language as a working language in the EU” and “increased use in international institutions”. The EU has warned that English is likely to be dropped as an official language in the wake of Brexit. Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, caused controversy earlier this year when he said English was “losing importance”. But the German MPs’ initiative has more to do with German domestic concerns than attempted point-scoring over Brexit. “The German language especially needs to be thoroughly used in our own country,” they wrote in their letter to Mrs Merkel. “Everything must be done to ensure that German does not become a sort of ‘residual language’.”



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