Resolution on the management of multilingualism at the European Parliament after enlargement

Joint General Assembly of Staff Interpreters and Conference Interpreters Auxiliaries (A.I.C.)

The staff interpreters of the European Parliament and their A.I.C. colleagues, meeting in a Joint General Assembly on 24 October 2001,

  • having regard to Article 12 of the Treaty establishing the European Community and to the principle of equality of all working languages of the EU;
  • having regard to the Report entitled "Preparing for the Parliament of the enlarged European Union" (PE 305.269/BUR/fin), which was adopted by the Bureau on 3 September 2001;
  • having regard to the decisions taken in the framework of that Report concerning the future of multilingualism in our Institution;
  • having regard to Parliament's official professional training policy, with its stated objective of offering all staff career development through training and to the importance of applying that policy in a non-discriminatory manner in all services;
  • having regard to the note produced by A.I.I.C. on 10 September 2001 with the title "Management of post-enlargement multilingualism at the European Parliament - The experts' viewpoint";

A. whereas some of these decisions are based on errors and misconceptions which are posited as facts in the working documents on multilingualism;

B. whereas these decisions constitute a radical change in the way interpretation is provided at the European Parliament;

C. whereas the present system has operated to the satisfaction of all since the creation of the European Parliament;

D. whereas they recognise the need of the Institution to master the costs of multilingualism in an enlarged European Union;

E. whereas the proposed system of bi-active interpretation will not lead to substantial savings, as it has no impact on the number of interpreters per meeting;

F. whereas the number of interpreters in a booth should never be less than three whenever that booth is working bi-actively;

G. whereas they recognise that the languages of the new Member States of the European Union will, initially, have to be interpreted mainly in the bi-active mode of interpretation;

H. whereas the generalised use of bi-active interpretation would result in numerous languages no longer being translated directly despite the fact that Parliament has the material and human resources to do so;

I. whereas it will not be possible to find a sufficient number of qualified interpreters to meet the needs of the European Parliament if the use of bi-active interpretation were to be extended to all languages;

J. whereas systematic recourse to bi-active interpretation would have a negative impact on the quality of interpretation and even be an impediment to communication, therefore undermining the very multilingualism it was designed to defend;

  1. welcome the fact that the Bureau has reasserted its commitment to maintain the principle of full multilingualism, which is an essential source of Parliament's democratic legitimacy;
  2. deplore the fact that interpreters or their representatives have never been consulted or informed about the proposals concerning multilingualism in our Institution after enlargement;
  3. call upon the Bureau of the European Parliament to reconsider the decisions concerning the management of post-enlargement multilingualism in our Institution, most notably as regards the generalised use of bi-active interpretation;
  4. consider that bi-active interpretation should only be used as a temporary solution and that a training policy is urgently needed to encourage interpreters to learn the languages of the new Member States, as they did with previous enlargements;
  5. insist that a proper evaluation of the use of bi-active interpretation, where unavoidable, be carried out by the Interpretation Directorate in consultation with interpreters five years after the next enlargement;
  6. call for the setting up of a formal working party made up of representatives of the parties concerned in order to define an approach to multilingualism that is professionally, politically and financially viable;
  7. determine that their representatives on this working party shall be appointed by the Delegation of Staff Interpreters and A.I.I.C.;
  8. demand that this working party meet as soon as possible;
  9. call for a detailed report from their representatives by December 2001;
  10. reserve the right, should the above demands not be met, to take action by all appropriate legal and institutional means;
  11. instruct the President of the General Assembly of Staff Interpreters and the A.I.I.C. Delegation to forward this resolution to the Director of Interpretation, to the Director General of DG VI, to the Secretary General of Parliament, to the President of Parliament, to the Bureau of Parliament, to the Chairman-in-Office of the College of Quaestors, to the Presidents and Secretaries General of the political groups, to the European Ombudsman, to the Staff Committee and to the Translators' Delegation of the European Parliament.

Recommended citation format:
AIIC. "Resolution on the management of multilingualism at the European Parliament after enlargement". December 8, 2001. Accessed May 28, 2020. <>.

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