Interpreting in the EP

Interpreting in the European Parliament

  • The European Parliament (EP) differs from the other institutions in terms of the diversity of its meetings and the subjects dealt with, and by the fact that all its meetings are multilingual.

    The languages used vary according to the type of meeting and the needs of the participants.

    In the European Parliament the principle of 'controlled full multilingualism' is applied in order to respect the Members' right to use the official language of their choice in all meetings.

    Parliament's Directorate-General for Logistics and Interpretation for Conferences provides interpreting for:

    • plenary sessions, always in 24 languages, in Brussels and Strasbourg;
    • meetings of parliamentary committees, parliamentary delegations and joint parliamentary assemblies all over the world;
    • meetings of political groups;
    • press conferences;
    • meetings of Parliament's governing bodies (Bureau, Conference of Presidents, Quaestors, etc.);
    • meetings of the Committee of the Regions;
    • meetings of the Court of Auditors;
    • meetings of the European Ombudsman;
    • meetings of the European Data Protection Supervisor;
    • meetings of the Translation Centre in Luxembourg.

    It also organises meetings outside the three places of work and manages meeting rooms and the conference technicians.

  • The interpreting method used varies depending on the requirements.

      Simultaneous interpreting
      The speech is interpreted in real time.
      The interpreter sits in a soundproof booth (ISO standard) with a direct view of the room;
      Meeting participants listen to the interpretation through headsets.
      Consecutive interpreting
      The interpreter renders what is said into the target language with the help of notes. He or she is in the room, alongside the speaker.
      This form of interpreting is used in bilateral meetings, official speeches and interviews.
      Chuchotage (whispered interpreting)
      The interpreter is in the room and whispers the interpretation into the participant's ear.
      A form of simultaneous interpreting using portable technical equipment (referred to as a 'valise'), which comprises headsets connected to a microphone. This is used in places where interpreting booths cannot be installed.

    Additional services provided

      Interpretation Ad Personam (IAP)
      Consecutive or whispered interpreting service offered in very specific cases.
      Remote interpreting
      Simultaneous interpreting where neither the interpreter nor the booths are in the meeting room. A set of screens provides a complete view of the room (not to be confused with video conference meetings).

  • Teams of interpreters are put together on the basis of the languages to be used in the meeting.

    • Two interpreters per booth: meetings with a maximum of six active and/or passive languages;
    • Three interpreters per booth: meetings with a minimum of seven active and/or passive languages.

    For a meeting with 24 active and passive languages, 72 interpreters would be needed for a full interpreting team.

    In Parliament's official places of work, all the meeting rooms are equipped with interpreting booths meeting international (ISO) standards.

    To make sure that the technical equipment works properly, the interpreters are assisted by a team of conference technicians, who carry out operational management and maintenance of interpreting equipment before and during meetings.

    Parliament also provides interpreting services for Members on their official travels elsewhere in the world.

Interpreters at work