EP - European Parliament

The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union.


The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union. It is involved in drafting EU legislation and is elected every five years; the next elections will be in 2014. 736 Members of the European Parliament or MEPs from 27 member states represent 375 million voters. The European Parliament has 23 official languages[i]. Since April 2012 interpretation into Croatian is provided for the Croatian observers in the EP.


The plenary elects the President (Speaker) and 14 Vice-Presidents for a period of two and half years. These sit on the Bureau, which is responsible for administrative and financial matters.

Most MEPs sit in transnational political groups according to political affiliation: there are currently 7 political groups.

The Conference of Presidents is made up of the chairs of the political groups and the President, and is responsible for legislative programming and the EP’s agenda.

There are 20 parliamentary committees that meet once or twice a month in Brussels. The EP also has 35 delegations for relations with countries outside the EU.

Detailed information available on: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/

Interpretation Service

DG INTE provides interpretation services for all EP meetings as required, as well as for meetings of the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the Court of Auditors. It is divided into three directorates:

  • the Directorate for Interpretation where interpreters are employed;
  • the Directorate for Organisation and Planning, which organises meetings, assigns interpreters and recruits freelance colleagues;
  • the Directorate for Resources, which deals with HR administrative follow-up, IT support and budget coordination and reporting.


About 330 staff interpreters are employed at the European Parliament, with numbers varying according to booth: nearly 30 in the German and English booths, 5 in the Slovene booth, and only 3 in the Maltese booth. During Plenary sessions over 500 freelance interpreters are employed.

The maximum number of sessions is 8 in a week, often fewer particularly for the « smaller » booths[ii]; some unsociable hours (e.g. night plenary from 21.00 to midnight). Sessions usually last a maximum 3 and a half hours, except for plenary shifts which are shorter. Only 44 EP staff interpreters are members of AIIC.


Simultaneous interpretation is the standard mode used. Meetings at the EP are political and often very fast-paced, with a very broad range of subject matter; there are some technical meetings but usually with a political component. An increasing number of EP meetings (plenary, committees) are now webstreamed. Depending on booth interpreters have to travel on mission. EP staff interpreters are required to learn additional languages, and receive in-house training for this.

Recruitment Conditions and Benefits

To become a permanent member of staff of the EU institutions, candidates must apply for a competition organised by EPSO (the European Personnel Selection Office). The admission test consists of computer-based verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning. Under the new competition procedures, EPSO uses a standard ‘assessment centre’ model for the successful candidates.  They are tested on general and specific competences. General competences are tested by means of a structured interview, a group exercise and an oral presentation. Specific competences in the field of interpretation are tested by means of consecutive and simultaneous speeches for each language in the candidate’s combination. Laureates having obtained pass marks and the highest aggregate marks at the assessment centre are placed on a reserve list and may be invited by an institution for an interview.

Temporary contracts are offered by heads of booth to interpreters accredited at the EU institutions, or to other candidates deemed suitable. The entry level grade for interpreters with only 2 languages and no experience is A5, with A7 grade contracts available for experienced interpreters with more languages. These contracts may last 2 years, and can be extended to a maximum of 6.

EU staff receive a generous benefits package: expatriation allowance, child allowance, household allowance, flat rate tax deducted at source, pension contributions, medical insurance, parental leave, at least 25 days a year paid leave, the possibility to work part-time on a reduced salary etc.


The European Parliament has 3 places of work : Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg. 12 plenary sessions a year are held in Strasbourg, so on average once a month the whole institution moves from Brussels for four days (Monday to Thursday); additional plenary sessions and other meetings (committees etc) are held in Brussels.

Living in Brussels

Brussels is a multicultural city of around 1 million inhabitants, and is of a very manageable size. Housing is plentiful and inexpensive for a capital city, and transport links are efficient (both within the city and abroad). EU staff usually send their children to the European school, but local schools are also of good quality. There is a  broad selection of cultural attractions (museums, concerts, cinema etc), and good shopping and services (especially restaurants), though not on a par with, say, London or Paris. The city has a maritime temperate climate with 200 days of rain a year so it can get a little grey.

More information from: http://www.bruxelles.irisnet.be/

[i] German, English, French, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, Finnish, Swedish, Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Polish, Slovak, Slovene, Bulgarian, Romanian, Maltese & Gaelic (the latter as a passive language only).

[ii] i.e the less widely spoken languages, or the languages of member states with a smaller number of MEPs.

Recommended citation format:
Staff Interpreters. "EP - European Parliament". aiic.net June 8, 2012. Accessed January 29, 2020. <http://aiic.net/p/6209>.

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