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This article is part of a special report: Berlin in Brussels.
BERLIN — German is coming.
English may be the European Union’s lingua franca, but listen carefully in the corridors of power and you’ll find the language of Goethe and Schiller is on the rise.
German is gaining ground among the EU’s three official working languages as Berlin prepares to take on the bloc’s presidency next month. That’s not least because native speakers occupy top positions, including Ursula von der Leyen at the Spitze of the European Commission.
Those in the Brussels bubble are taking note.
The proportion of German speakers rises as you climb the Commission organigram.
The Goethe Institute, Germany’s state-funded cultural outpost, told POLITICO it saw a five-fold increase in demand for its free language tuition service for diplomats and journalists in Brussels between 2012 and 2019.
That’s part of Europanetzwerk Deutsch, a state-funded, soft power initiative to lift those with some knowledge of German into working proficiency.
Worldwide, some 15.4 million people are now learning the language,