Translating for the European Union Institutions: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Translating for the European Union Institutions

1st Edition

By Emma Wagner, Svend Bech, Jesús M. Martínez

Edited by Anthony Pym


162 pages

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pub: 2001-12-01
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The institutions of the European Union employ hundreds of translators. Why? What do they do? What sort of translation problems do they have to tackle? Has the language policy of the European Union been affected by the recent inclusion of new Member States?

This book answers all those questions. Written by three experienced translators from the European Commission, it aims to help general readers, translation students and freelance translators to understand the European Union institutions and their work. Although it deals with written rather than spoken translation, much of the information it gives will be of interest to interpreters too.

This second edition has been updated to reflect the new composition of the EU and changes to recruitment procedures.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 – Why we translate

Multilingualism: the principle

Equality before the law

Citizenship of the Union

Legal basis of multilingualism

Language versions or translations?

Three common myths about multilingualism

Exercises for students

Chapter 2 – The EU institutions: their roles and their translation services

How the EU institutions interact

The European Council

The European Parliament

The Council of the European Union

The European Commission

The Court of Justice of the European Union

The European Court of Auditors

The European Central Bank

The European Ombudsman

The European Data Protection Supervisor

Financial bodies

The European Investment Bank

The European Investment Fund

Advisory bodies

The Economic and Social Committee

The Committee of the Regions

Joint Services of the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions

Interinstitutional bodies

European External Action service (EEAS)

Publications Office of the European Union

European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO)


European Administrative School


Common Security and Defence Policy Agencies

Police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters

Other policy areas (‘Community’ agencies)

Executive agencies

EURATOM agencies and bodies 28

European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) 28

The Translation Centre

An afterthought

Exercises for students

Chapter 3 – How to get in

Working in-house for the EU institutions


EPSO recruitment competitions for permanent translators

Competition in two phases

General conditions of eligibility for permanent translators

Success rates in recent translators’ competitions

Non-permanent staff: Temporary translators and contract agents

Working for the EU institutions as a freelance translator

‘Calls for tender’ and ‘calls for expressions of interest’

Calls for tender – more details

Freelance translation in practice: the steps involved

Rapid post-editing by freelance post-editors

Working for the EU institutions as a trainee (intern)

Paid and unpaid traineeships

Cooperation with universities training translators

Visits to the EU institutions

European Master’s in Translation (EMT)

Visiting translator scheme (VTS)

A final idea: translators as guinea pigs

Exercises for students

Chapter 4 – What we translate


Legislation involving several institutions

The preparatory stages

Legislation issued by a single institution

Political scrutiny

Judicial scrutiny

Public scrutiny and administration

Information for the public

"We never translate alone!"

A footnote: Language range

Exercises for students

Chapter 5 – Problems


Non-transferability of concepts

Supranational concepts and Eurospeak

Slogans and puns – mission impossible

Crossing cultural barriers

Translating for in-house readers

Translating for readers outside the EU institutions

Translating for … who knows?

Quality of originals and the effect on translations

Drafting by non-native speakers

Collective drafting

New drafting guidelines for legislation, clear writing campaigns

Interinstitutional Agreement on the quality of legal drafting

Fight the FOG campaign

Citizens’ summaries

Clear Writing campaign

Editing of originals


Interference between languages

Interference between registers

Interference by non-translators


Exercises for students

Chapter 6 – What the job involves


Organisation of work

Interaction with clients

Translation tools and aids used in the EU institutions

Inputting translations

Online teamwork


Full-text databases and document collections

Translation memories

Machine translation

In-house training

On-the-job training

Language training

Subject training

Job prospects for in-house translators

Career development


Alternatives to translation

The future

Interinstitutional cooperation

Decentralised translation

Exercises for students

Chapter 7 – EU enlargement and its impact on translation

Enlargement: translation facts and figures

Defending multilingualism

Enlargement dates

Pre-accession and post-accession needs

Translation of the acquis communautaire (EU legislation in force)

Revising the translations of primary and secondary legislation

In-house preparation for enlargement


A virtual accession: Newland joins the EU

Translation of the acquis into Newlish

Translation out of Newlish: training of in-house staff

Translation into Newlish: training of future translators in Newland

Translation into Newlish: recruitment to the EU institutions

Public reactions in Newland to EU translations

Exercises for students

Chapter 8 – Translator profiles

Angelika Vaasa, translator at the European Parliament

José Cuenda Guijarro, translator at the Council of the European Union

Wanda Vrbata-Gr?plowska, Polish translator and terminologist at the European Commission

David Monkcom, editor and former translator at the European Commission

Simon Bartolo, translator in the Web Translation Unit at the European Commission

Simona Pe?nik Krži?, Slovenian translator at the European Court of Auditors

Annex 1

The Treaties

The Constitutional Treaty and the Treaty of Lisbon

Annex 2

A brief guide to European Union legislation

1. Types of instrument

2. The anatomy of an instrument

About the Series

Translation Practices Explained

Translation Practices Explained is a series of coursebooks designed to help self-learners and students on translation and interpreting courses. Each volume focuses on a specific aspect of professional translation and interpreting practice, usually corresponding to courses available in translator- and interpreter-training institutions. The authors are practicing translators, interpreters, and/or translator or interpreter trainers. Although specialists, they explain their professional insights in a manner accessible to the wider learning public.

Each volume includes activities and exercises designed to help learners consolidate their knowledge, while updated reading lists and website addresses will also help individual learners gain further insight into the realities of professional practice.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General