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The European Commission is facing a serious language interpreting shortage over the next 5-10 years
מפרסם התגובה: Alistair Gainey

ParlInt
Local time: 09:33
Democracy is more important than pennypinching Feb 6, 2013

Williamson wrote:

Indeed, it would cheaper to do like NATO where English and French are the core languages.
Why don't they apply the same principle to E.P.?
Most MEPs know one of these languages and if they live in Brussels, they are bound to pick up English or French, the one being an official language of the country they sojourn in (during the week), the other being the lingua franca. Otherwise, they won't go far in their daily private life.







[Edited at 2009-02-20 10:50 GMT]


This opinion is typically expressed in countries where there is a multilingual tradition, or at least a high level of a second language taught as standard in schools. Unfortunately this is not the case for many countries across Europe. What about countries that have two languages which aren't EN, FR or DE?

Why should the people of Europe be forced to elect a democratic representative who can speak a second or third language?
Why should countries like the UK and Ireland be given a considerable advantage in negotiations by having the other parties speaking a foreign language?
Why should laws/regulations affecting all EU countries (and which have to be translated anyway), be drafted in a common language where non-natives have to choose between politically sensitive terms which they may not fully understand?
Why should the people of Europe be forced to listen in a foreign language if they want to follow the live meetings of the EP in plenary, committees, press conferences etc?
Why should a politician, whose task is to reflect the opinions of the people and sway others with his argument, have his influencing capacity reduced compared to his native speaker counterparts?
Why do people assume that the English spoken by Europeans is equivalent to the English spoken in the UK? (It is different: more ambiguous, less clear, more variable than a language can be while remaining operational). Is this what the people of Europe deserve?

You cannot slice up democratic representation just to save a relatively minor cost (compared to say, admin costs as a whole, which are also tiny compared to the scale of the project). The argument really falls down because people think being conversationally fluent in a language is equivalent to having a sufficient command of it. It isn't. When Dutch members speak broken English, the Spanish will understand one thing, the Finns another, and it frequently comes tumbling down as a result. If we're talking about wasting money, I'd argue that a huge amount is wasted by bad English. Don't forget that your MEP may be speaking great English, but do the others listening without interpretation actually fully understand it?

In my experience, when things get difficult, and when members really need their message to be expressed eloquently, then they speak their mother tongue. That's the way a credible, democratic institution must work. How much MEPs earn is another matter entirely, but it is actually the gripe behind many of these arguments.


 

ParlInt
Local time: 09:33
Shortage of (cheap) interpreters Feb 6, 2013

mike kelly wrote:

is there really a shortage of interpreters with English as htheir mother tongue willing to work at the EU? I find that hard to believe.


So do I, and I work here.
In fact, over the last few years there have been changes to recruitment criteria to try and avoid paying interpreters to travel, and increasing the number of days they need to work before being considered experienced. With lower pay for the first 250 days, no recruitment guarantees, very little recruitment outside the local radius, combined with the fact that intelligent, well-educated young people can find well paid work in the UK without having to leave their family and friends behind, means that it is becoming more difficult to find people who live close enough to be cheap.


 
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The European Commission is facing a serious language interpreting shortage over the next 5-10 years

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