The profession of translator in the European Parliament

How do European Parliament translators work?

Translators in the European Parliament must meet the highest standards of accuracy and precision in their work and ensure consistency with a very large corpus of documents. In many cases the same original text contains more than one official language. The deadlines for completion of legislative, in particular codecision, procedures are extremely tight and particular care is required to take account of the contributions by the Commission, Council and Parliament.

Do the European Parliament's services translate from all languages into all languages?

In principle, the European Parliament translates direct from one language into another; however, the language units are not yet able to cover all the 506 possible combinations of the 23 official languages, and Parliament has therefore put in place a 'relay' system whereby if a language unit cannot translate a document from the original language, it works in relay from the translation already made into another language. At present, the 'relay' languages are English, French and German.

What technologies are used?

In the current state of knowledge, there is no automatic translation system which can guarantee the high degree of precision and quality required for EU documentation. The translation services use IT resources that reduce the risk of human error and speed up the production of texts by allowing selective reuse of translation memories (Translator's Workbench, Euramis) and reference to documentary and terminological databases (EurLex, IATE). Large document repositories can also be searched using search engines.

What about reference materials and the Internet?

In addition to conventional reference works, all translators have access to the Internet and to Intranet resources to check terms, expressions and facts. They often work with background documents from the European Commission, the Council or other institutions and constant efforts are made to enhance cooperation and information exchange between different EU institutions.

What about quality control?

All priority documents and sensitive political texts, as well as a substantial proportion of other documents, are checked and proofread internally before delivery. In addition, sample quality checks both of external and internal translations are regularly carried out.

What about external translation?

If sufficient capacity is not available in-house, some low-priority documents may be translated externally; they can also be sent for translation to another institution.

How to become an official translator at the European Parliament

The European institutions organise competitions to recruit translators (linguist administrators in the field of translation) through the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) in order to fill vacancies arising. The notices of competition are published on the EPSO website and in the Official Journal of the European Union, together with the eligibility criteria, instructions on the procedure and the application form, the terms of recruitment, the languages required and the precise nature of the tests.

How can I work as an external translator for the European Parliament?

Only by participating in a published call for tenders or by approaching a contractor who has already been awarded a contract as a result of a call for tenders.

How can I find information about open calls for tenders?

Information on calls for tenders, as well as the relevant contract notices, are published in the Official Journal, series S, and on the Commission's website 'TED - Tenders Electronic Daily'.