Commission: Translation moves into heart of policy-making

The Commission says that translation is now at the heart of policy-making and must be integrated into the preparatory process from the outset to prevent it from becoming a constraint on the Commission’s work.

“Thanks to a series of major practical measures adopted over the past year, translation capacity in the Commission has increased and the Commission has been able to meet its legal obligations under the Treaty,” said Ján Figel, the first ever commissioner for multilingualism.

His comments come with the Commission assessing the incorporation of nine new languages into the its work and looking at the challenges ahead.

“There is no more backlog in new member state languages. The management system is working well,” Education and Culture spokesperson Frédéric Vincent told EURACTIV.

Journalists at a press conference were told that ensuring the quality of translations has been a “challenge, especially translations done by freelancers for new member state languages” but added that “training sessions for these freelancers on terminology and procedures were ongoing”.

Two of the main adjustments to the action plan adopted in May 2004 to cater for the nine extra EU languages are that financial statements (accompanying a Commission communication/proposal) will now be translated into all the official languages and that the resources allocated to translating DG website pages are being doubled.

The Commission says that reducing the length of Commission communications from 37 to 15 pages have helped it fulfil its legal obligations and contributed to improving the clarity of its message. Co-operation with the Council and Parliament has been stepped up with the institutions developing common databases, joint evaluation of the quality of freelance translation and establishing common criteria for recruiting translators and managers. 

Multilingualism was added to a commissioner’s portfolio for the first time in autumn 2004. A feasibility study into the creation of a European Agency for Linguistic Diversity and Language Learning, published on 8 July, is part of the Commission’s reflection process on multilingualism.

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