Cost in translation – expense awareness ‘duty to taxpayers’


In a report on the translation costs of the EU institutions adopted by the European Parliament, MEP Alexander Stubb has called for more awareness of costs, questioning the need to have every document translated into languages such as Finnish, Swedish or Maltese in the EU institutions.

Some €26 million is wasted annually through booked but unused translation services in the EU institutions, according to European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats MEP Alexander Stubb, who wrote the report adopted by MEPs on 10 July 2007. 

The translation costs of the Parliament, the Commission and the Council amounted to €511 million in 2005. The report calls for more efficient means to evaluate productivity and costs, assess translation needs, manage translations, control their quality and increase inter-institutional co-operation.

“Everything does not need to be translated into all the official languages. For example, in the Committees of the Parliament, it is sufficient to have translations in languages used by the members of the Committee in question. Other translations can be provided if requested,” Stubb said. 

“Awareness of translation costs is our duty towards the taxpayers,” added Stubb, who has also proposed replacing the translations of verbatim reports of Parliament’s plenary sessions by an internet service, from where it is already possible to follow recorded videos interpreted in all languages. “The use of the internet is a must in our times and it can help us make substantial economies.”

However, he also underlined in his report that multilinguism is one of EU’s main assets: “The EU’s language services, including both translation and interpretation, amount to only less than one percent of the total costs of the EU. Not such a high price to pay for democracy and efficient co-operation.”


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