France Constitutional Council strikes down bill allowing regional languages in schools News
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France Constitutional Council strikes down bill allowing regional languages in schools

The Constitutional Council of France struck down a bill Friday permitting schools to teach the majority of the day in regional languages such as Basque, Breton, and Corsican for being unconstitutional.

In April 2021, the National Assembly of France had passed the impugned bill to protect and promote regional languages. It enabled primary schools to provide “immersive teaching” in a regional language. In other words, they could teach in a specific regional language for the majority of the school day. It also required the local authorities to provide financial assistance to individuals who wished to be educated in such languages.

However, under Article 61 of the French Constitution, 61 deputies referred the bill to the Constitutional Council. They contested the constitutionality of the bill and requested the Council to verify the law before its implementation.

The Council ruled that the impugned bill violated Article 2 of the French Constitution, which provides that French is the official language of France. It held that individuals could not claim the right to use a language other than French in relation to public services and administrations.

Since “immersive teaching” in a regional language as provided by Article 4 of the bill involves the use of a regional language as the primary language of instruction and communication within a public establishment, the Council found it in violation of Article 2 of the French Constitution. Similarly, the Council struck down Article 9 of the bill as it permitted the use of diacritics of regional languages in official documents.

MP Paul Molac, who introduced the impugned bill, demanded a constitutional bill to modify Article 2 of the French Constitution.