Which languages for the State?

Administration

According to the provisions of the Languages Law of 1984, 'French, German or Luxembourgish may be used' in administrative and judicial matters. This means that citizens can apply to the administration in any of these three languages, and officials must attempt 'as far as possible' to respond in the language used by the applicant.

The functioning of the administration of the Luxembourg State is based on a solid balance: French is the preferred written language and Luxembourgish the most widely used spoken language (for work and communication).

Legislative documents are written in French and an important consequence of this on a judicial level is that only the French language text is deemed authentic for all levels of public administration.

Politics

Parliament

In the Chamber of Deputies, no language of use is formally decreed, so deputies can use whichever language they want.

Ordinary debates are conducted in Luxembourgish, while written questions to the Government are usually asked in French.

French is also used on rare occasions when a Minister makes a major declaration.

Municipal council

Electoral legislation stipulates that the usual language spoken at municipal council meetings shall be Luxembourgish. Councillors may also express themselves in one of the other languages recognised in the Grand Duchy — French and German — but may not request interpreting or the translation of written documents.

Justice

According to the provisions of the Languages Law of 1984, 'French, German or Luxembourgish may be used' in administrative and judicial matters.

The three languages recognised in the Grand Duchy are therefore used in the courts. Hearings are mostly held in French and Luxembourgish. German is much less frequent.

It is customary for court decisions to be drawn up almost exclusively in French. This is customary, but not a legal requirement. The use of one of the other official languages is possible. In practice, particularly in criminal matters, the text drawn up by the courts often includes quotations from police statements, which are usually written in German.

Generally, people appearing in court may express themselves in the language they want. An interpreter is provided for anyone who does not speak one of the Grand Duchy's three languages. 

  • Updated 28-04-2015