Jan 15 2005

EU Translation Costs to Surpass $1B Mark

Published by at January 15, 2005 7:45 am under Interpretation,Translation

Translation costs at the European Union are set to pass a billion dollars a year as the economic bloc struggles to accommodate 10 new members after its expansion into Eastern Europe and the Baltics, officials said.

Critics chafe at the sum, but to many its money well spent in keeping Europe’s quilt of cultures – and national egos – intact.

The 10 new members that joined in May expanded the EU to 25 and added nine new languages for a total of 20. Once the many cross-translation services this requires are at full speed, the overall costs will rise to $1.06 billion per year from about $720 million now, according to European Commission documents published Friday.

Interpretation costs may reach $312 million in 2007, up from $137 million last year.

Together, funding this unique system will take almost $2.62 out of the pocket of every EU citizen every year. Many EU citizens have balked at the cost and called for a drastic reduction in the number of languages used officially.

The United Nations, with far more member nations, uses only six official languages, critics note. But Europe’s Tower of Babel is essential, said Ian Andersen, a department head at the Directorate General for Interpretation.

“There is no way around it if you want to work in a community of law,” he told reporters. When EU laws are binding on its citizens, they should be able to consult them in their own language.

“It is the democratic right of everyone who participates in decision-making to make their point and to have access to information on an equal footing,” said Andersen, a Dane.

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