Much as it galls the French, English has become Europe’s cultural lingua franca (Tomiwa Owolade, 18 Nov 2023, The Guardian)

In 1871, the German chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, crushed France and annexed the territory of Alsace-Lorraine after the Franco-Prussian war. More than a decade later, Bismarck hosted the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885, which carved up Africa into European colonies, and spoke to the other European delegates in French.

The role French played in the past as the lingua franca of Europe has been replaced today by English. If two Europeans meet each other in any part of the continent, and they don’t speak the same native language, they will probably speak to each other in English.