Officials reject proposal to make English second language at authorities

Officials reject proposal to make English second language at authorities

The German Civil Servants’ Association has spoken out against the FDP’s idea of introducing English as a second administrative language at official offices, arguing that it would run the risk of causing legal confusion and ultimately create more bureaucracy. 

Should English be spoken by German authorities?

The FDP party made headlines this week when it suggested that the English language should be introduced as a second official language in government offices and agencies, to make it easier for non-German speakers to interact with authorities. The plan was put forward as part of a major overhaul of Germany’s immigration policies, as the country seeks to battle a critical shortage of skilled workers.

However, shortly after being floated, it was rejected out of hand by the organisation responsible for the officials working in these offices, the Civil Servants’ Association dbb. “When it comes to ordinances and laws, the official language in this country applies for reasons of legal certainty, and that is German,” spokesperson Britta Ibald told the RND

Communicating in English would add to bureaucracy, dbb argues

Rather than making things easier, the dbb argued that communicating in English would, in future, lead to more work. “The requirements for the necessary foreign language skills vary greatly depending on the discipline and region, so the blanket introduction of English as a second “official language” does not seem very effective,” Ibald said. “Rather, there is a risk that a considerable amount of bureaucracy will be created.”

She added that recruitment in the public sector already took these factors into account, with intercultural competence and multilingualism considered desirable skills in those looking for jobs.

However, she welcomed the FDP’s suggestion as an indication that the government recognised the need to invest more in the training and further education of public sector employees and the digitisation of administration. 

Thumb image credit: Mo Photography Berlin /



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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AttilaGabor2 08:03 | 8 July 2022