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Parliamentary questions
PDF 48kWORD 28k
26 April 2012
Question for written answer E-004392/2012
to the Commission
Rule 117
Mojca Kleva (S&D) , Tanja Fajon (S&D) , Romana Jordan (PPE) , Zofija Mazej Kukovič (PPE) , Jelko Kacin (ALDE) , Alojz Peterle (PPE) , Ivo Vajgl (ALDE) and Milan Zver (PPE)

 Subject: Ensuring multilingualism in communication with European citizens
 Answer in writing 

Linguistic and cultural diversity is part and parcel of the European identity: it is a shared heritage, a source of wealth, a challenge and an asset for Europe. The Council emphasised the importance of this cross-cutting area and, specifically, of Europe’s less widely used languages in its resolution of 21 November 2008. The Commission advocated similar ideas in its 2008 communication entitled ‘Multilingualism: an asset for Europe and a shared commitment’, and its 2005 action plan stressed that European policies and activities must be communicated in such a way that they are understood by all European citizens.

The online translation unit of the Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation was set up precisely in response to a democratic deficit within the European institutions. The Commission thereby fulfilled its political commitment to informing citizens of its work in their own language, selecting the most widely used modern medium, the Internet, for this task. Through its working methods and technological development, the online unit has made a name for itself within and outside the Commission, enabling the Commission to set an example to other national and international organisations that also wish to give their websites a multilingual and democratic dimension.

Just when mutual understanding between the European Union and the citizens of Europe is more important than ever, the Commission has embarked on a reorganisation abolishing this effective unit. Absorbing online translators into language departments (translations of legislative texts) will directly threaten the quality, consistency and quantity of websites aimed at EU citizens. The Director-General has not based his proposal on a cost-benefit analysis, and the formation of new departments will, rather than simplifying matters, entail unnecessary additional procedures and costs.

We therefore ask the Commission to explain the reasons for the reorganisation of the unit in question.

Can the Commission give an assurance that the abolition of the online translation unit will not deprive Slovene and other smaller European languages of their status guaranteeing equal representation on EU websites?
Does the Commission agree that the content published on EU websites is of such importance to the citizens of all Member States that they are entitled to high-quality and accurate translations – something which they will be unable to obtain themselves by using online translation tools?

Original language of question: SLOJ C 192 E, 03/07/2013
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