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EU - report from the EU negotiating delegation, July 2010

Report from the EU negotiating delegation on sharing of interpreter data, professional domicile, pension/life assurance provident scheme.

1. Recruiting organisations’ sharing of interpreter data to alleviate recruitment crises

Some time ago, the chief interpreter at the European Patent Office (EPO), at a meeting with other chief interpreters, explained her difficulty in finding qualified interpreters (in particular for the English booth out of German for particularly “busy” periods) and stated that she would welcome the possibility of exchanging names between organisations, knowing that for instance the EU would have on their lists qualified colleagues who had not yet been approached by the EPO. After discussion, it was decided that some organisations which felt they might benefit from exchanges of interpreter data should explore setting up such a list. The only details shared would be the interpreter’s name, language combination, professional domicile and contact details, ie the information already available via AIIC’s online database and other sites such as linkedin etc.

Last year the EU Negotiating Delegation was told by the EU Institutions that other international organisations had shown interest in the idea of sharing their lists of non-staff interpreters. The ND insisted, inter alia, that the interpreter’s consent should be sought, and on 16 March mailed everyone on AIIC’s EU sector mailing list, informing them of the project.

The organisations have now decided to go ahead with the data-sharing scheme, with the interpreters concerned informed by e-mail and, in some cases, also by other means internal to the organisation. The EU Institutions, the EPO and the Council of Europe have already informed the interpreters on their lists. Other participating organisations will follow suit in due course.

Some colleagues may resent any possibility of being recruited by a new organisation
that feels like recruiting them, especially as the organisations have decided to allow interpreters to opt out, rather than asking them to specifically opt in. It is worth bearing in mind that:

  • This possibility remains fairly remote anyway, since the need for chief interpreters to look beyond their own lists of interpreters would normally only arise at certain dates, and only for certain language combinations.
  • Even an “opt-out” system enables you to say “thanks, but no thanks”.
  • Being on a list would not circumvent the need to get accreditation or any other form of vetting which various organisations may apply.
  • The data shared would be names, language combinations, professional domiciles and contact details, by means of a simple log-in and password-protected search system.
  • Interpreters will be able to change their opted-in status to opted-out and vice versa at any time, even changing this status themselves where organisations’ data systems permit (e.g. EU Institutions’ online system which enables their accredited interpreters to change certain data on their individual data sheet such as bank account details).

2. Professional domicile

According to our Agreement, ACI shall have no more than one professional domicile at a time. As AIIC rules also preclude more than one professional domicile at a time it follows that an AIIC member can not declare two different domiciles to their Association and to the Institutions. Partly to avoid cross-contamination when recruiting organisations share data bases, AIIC and the EU Institutions have cross-checked the professional domiciles in their respective data bases.

3. Insurance

The Delegation was alerted to delays and other problems with claims processing by Vanbreda under the mandatory insurance scheme. A meeting has been held with DG SCIC to identify the procedural problems and ensure the appropriate action is taken.

4. Pension/life assurance provident scheme

If you have not already done so, you are urged to choose a scheme and inform the payments unit of your choice, so that contributions can be paid in (see art.15 of the Agreement). These contributions represent substantial amounts of money, your money. Ideally, you should take responsibility for choosing a scheme, rather than relying on a default scheme chosen by the Commission.

5.  Calls to tender

Several months ago the Delegation asked SCIC about calls to tender for interpretation issued by Commission Directorates General and their compatibility with the Agreement. SCIC consulted the Commission's Legal Service, which replied that such calls were not compatible with the Agreement. Since informing other DGs of this, SCIC is not aware of any further calls with an interpretation item in the specifications, and is following up internally.

Recommended citation format:
European Union Negotiating Delegation. "EU - report from the EU negotiating delegation, July 2010". July 27, 2010. Accessed June 2, 2020. <>.

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From their perspective:

a) I'm not sure they can legally give out that info over the phone without permission - probably not;

b)Except for the EU, they probably get access to more interpreters and language combinations by sharing the info than by looking in the AIIC directory - where the search module currently leaves quite a bit to be desired;

c) Opt-in is more convenient for them, and as long as privacy legislation in their respective countries doesn't preclude it, I doubt it can be opposed unless they fail to inform everyone concerned. Mind you, the e-mail they send out should have a receipt confirmation request attached.

Personally I don't see a big problem with this initiative as long as it complies with legal privacy requirements - it's convenient for all those concerned, and availability info is not shared, so you're free to turn down work and not give a reason.

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I just have a question: why can't the EPO, for instance, just pick up the phone or, even better, look in the AIIC directory to find interpreters for "missing" languages, such as English booths from German?! Why do they have to invent this kind of new system? And if they absolutely want it, then the default should have been opt-out, so that people who are interested in giving their information to other organisations, would have to take concrete action, not those who don't want to be on yet another joint list!

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