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The External Translation Unit is responsible for the execution of requests for the translation of texts that exceed the translation capacity of the European Parliament's in-house translators. In recent years, between 300 000 and 500 000 pages per year have been outsourced to contractors.

Periodic procurement procedures are also organised in accordance with the Financial Regulation to identify suitably qualified and experienced contractors who then sign framework contracts with the European Parliament. These contracts are performed on the basis of signed purchase orders for each translation assignment.

When an in-house language unit decides to outsource a translation task, a request is submitted internally, after which the document in question is checked against translation memories in order to identify matches with previously translated texts. When the necessary files are ready, the External Translation Unit sends them to the external contractor for the target language in question. The contractor translates and revises the text and returns the file. Once the contractor has delivered the translation, a final check is performed to ensure that the translation was delivered on time and that, according to the language unit, the quality of the translation meets the required contractual standard, before payment is authorised.

The European Parliament publishes calls for tenders for external translation services in the 'S' series of the Official Journal, on the Tenders Electronic Daily platform and on the European Parliament's website.