In celebration of European Language Day, the Eurostat statistics agency said 66 percent of working age adults claim to know at least one foreign language, with English overwhelmingly the most popular except in the Baltic states, Luxembourg and Slovakia.
But asked if their level of English was "proficient", "good", or just "fair", 64 percent of Italians said only fair, followed by 50 percent in Germany and 49 percent in France.
In Malta, Britain's one-time Mediterranean outpost, 53 percent of respondents judged themselves proficient in English followed by Sweden at 43 percent and Denmark at 36 percent.
The data showed a whopping 94 percent of upper secondary school students in the European Union choosing English as their second language, with French a distant second at 23 percent, and German at 21 percent.
The crushing preponderance of English as the foreign tongue of choice is a sore subject for many European countries, especially the French, who long for a continent where the language of Shakespeare is not the lingua franca.