Move to main content

Promoting cooperation between public officials and EU translators and interpreters

In 1998 and 2006–7, the Institute for the Languages of Finland (ILF) conducted a survey of Finnish public officials. This survey aimed to gather information on the languages they used in the course of their EU duties. Questions on the perceived quality of EU texts were also presented.

– Finnish public officials mainly use English in EU meetings.

– In their opinion, there is often room for improvement in Finnish versions of EU texts.  

– According to the 1998 survey, interpretation from and into Finnish was seldom available. In 2007, around half of respondents felt that their need for interpretation services was inadequately met.

– According to the 2007 survey, around half of the respondents could not say whether they had engaged in sufficient/adequate cooperation with translators.

– In 1998, ILF asked non–native interpreters and translators of Finnish within the EU to list what they found most difficult about Finnish source texts.

– In 1999, ILF prepared a manual for public officials on how to compose speeches and other texts to enable their successful translation or interpretation:

Käännetäänkö tekstisi, tulkataanko puheenvuorosi? Selvää suomea kansainvälisesti

– This manual encouraged officials to view translation and interpretation as teamwork between the author and translator and/or interpreter. It also provided information on how and where to contact language professionals.

– The Finnish Prime Minister’s Office published and distributed the manual, together with other background material, to all public officials involved in running the Finnish EU Presidencies in 1999 and 2006.

– Prior to the 2006 Presidency, the ILF and interpreters from the European Commission held several presentations to underline the importance of cooperation between public officials and interpreters. As a result, demand for interpretation increased.

– Based on the Finnish booklet, Sweden drew up a similar manual for its own EU Presidency in 2001:

Tala för att tolkas – skriva för att översättas

– In 2003, the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union prepared a corresponding manual in French and English (new editions in 2010):

Writiting for translation

Écir pour être traduit

– Estonia had the manual translated into Estonian in 2007 (Autor, arvesta ka tõlkijat).

– In 2008, the European Commission Directorate–General for Translation presented the Finnish Minister of Justice with a proposal to set up a network for the translation of EU legislation. The aim was to establish a coordinated contact channel for questions and feedback between EU translators and interpreters, and Finnish public officials.

– With the active backing and lobbying of the ILF, the network was set up in 2009. The Finnish Prime Minister’s Office and the European Commission are responsible for coordinating the network’s activities, while the ILF provides the necessary support.

– In 2011, the Advisory Board on Better Regulation issued a report in which it urged the Finnish Government to strengthen the Finnish language’s status in the drafting of EU legislation.