sMAartblog

EU

19 Jan 2011

Van Rompuy at the University of Warsaw

On January 17, the President of the European Council – Herman van Rompuy – visited Poland. The lecture on the challenges for the EU was delivered on the 20th anniversary of the Centre for Europe at the University of Warsaw.

In his speech, Herman van Rompuy highlighted the noble history of the University of Warsaw and honoured the “students and professors who participated in the revolt of 1968”.

Naturally, van Rompuy also congratulated the Centre for Europe on its 20th anniversary: “(…) the Europe Centre is just one

example of how quickly many people in Poland seized the great European moment, immediately after that wonderful year 1989 when communism collapsed in Europe, the annus mirabilis”.

The main theme of van Rompuy’s speech were the challenges faced currently by the EU, i.e. strengthening the Economic and Monetary Union, bringing back growth and creating new jobs, developing green economy, securing energy supplies and increasing energy efficiency. Also such issues as greater need for research and development have been brought to light.

Van Rompuy highlighted also Poland’s vital role in moving forward the Eastern Partnership.

Later that day van Rompuy met with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk with the aim of discussing preparation for the European Councils in the months ahead and the upcoming Polish Presidency of the Council during the second half of the year.

See more: Van Rompuy’s Lecture on EU Challenges Delivered at the University of Warsaw

13 Jan 2011

European Translations on the American Market

Americans are known to have traditional aversion to international translation. Only about 3% of the books published in the United States are translations. The figure includes not only literary fiction and poetry, but all the works in translation! Moreover, most translations go unnoticed, as they are not covered by the mainstream media at all.

Fortunately, there are more and more campaigns aimed at increasing this figure, which can contribute to greater cultural diversity and intercultural exchange of ideas. These initiatives cover not only the most widely spoken European languages, like French or German. Foreign culture agencies and foundations representing less widely spoken languages, like Romanian or Slovenian, also try to make their literature present in the American publishing industry. However, due to relatively small budgets and limited access to mainstream media, online presence remains the main means of promotion.

Polish literature and its translations into English are also acknowledged on the American market – Jerzy Pilch is one of the authors  whose book (Mighty Angel) has been included in the 2010 Best Translated Book Award: Fiction Longlist.

There have been established some American websites devoted specifically to foreign literature, such as the University of Rochester’s Three Percent or Words without Borders.

The issue of the presence of foreign literature on the American market has been extensively discussed in this article: The New York Times, Translation as Literary Ambassador by Larry Rohter.

31 Dec 2010

Voting Behaviour in the New European Parliament: First Year

VoteWatch.eu has published its first annual report investigating the activities of the European Parliament in the first year of the 7th legislature. The report analyses the voting behaviour of the MEPs and political groups in all the roll-call votes that took place between the first plenary session of the new legislature in July 2009 and the last plenary session in June 2010.

The report focuses on such issues as the voting patterns, voting cohesion, attendance of MEPs at plenary sessions as well as their activity in writing reports or questioning the Council and the Commission.

The main findings of the report are as follows:

– In the current legislature MEPs vote primarily along transnational party lines rather than along national lines. The cohesion has increased in this legislature compared to the average of the EP6. The only exception is the agricultural policy – in this case some national delegations tend to vote independently from their political groups.

– The average attendance rates at plenary sessions have increased when compared to the previous legislature.

– Poland is one of the leading Member States as regards the highest average report-writing rate per MEP.

Votewatch.eu is an independent website set up to promote better debates and greater transparency in EU decision-making by providing easy access to, and analysis of, the decisions and activities of EU politicians. Votewatch.eu uses the European Parliament’s own attendance, voting and activity data to give a full overview of MEP activities, broken down by nationality, national political party and European party grouping.

16 Dec 2010

EP Adopts EU Budget for 2011

The budget for 2011 – the first budget negotiated under the Lisbon Treaty – has been adopted on December, 15, after almost two months of negotiations.

This is how the EP President, Jerzy Buzek, commented on the adoption of the budget by the European Parliament:

„We acted responsibly in times of austerity.  We got a good deal.  We need an EU budget in 2011 focused on investment to boost growth and jobs to help us recover from the crisis.  This EU budget is very good news for the European Union and for its citizens.  In parallel, the EP has obtained important commitments from the Council and the Commission, including on the EP’s involvement in the long-term EU budget negotiations, which will help us to avoid budgetary crises in the future.  Importantly, after insistence from the European Parliament, the Commission will launch a legislative proposal on own resources and the next long-term budget by June 2011.”

Source: EP President’s Press Release

15 Sep 2010

The Way Towards Greater Cultural and Linguistic Diversity

On September 8, 2010, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou made a speech at the opening ceremony of the conference “Creativity, Culture and Innovation: Looking for new links”, organised in Brussels by the Belgian EU Presidency of the European Union.

The Commissioner underlined the importance of cultural and creative industries in today’s knowledge economy and their potential to drive growth. This approach was also expressed in the Green Paper of the European Commission “Unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries” published this April. Androulla Vissiliou referred also to the Europe 2020 Strategy as a joint initiative of the Member States and the Commission charting Europe’s path back to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

“In recent years, the rapid roll-out of information and communication technologies has transformed our lives: how we communicate; but also what and how we create, bring to market, consume and share. The cultural and creative industries have been at the cutting edge of a progressive make-over of our economies. Today, the most valuable raw materials are intangible: the ability to imagine and the desire to experiment”, said the European Commissioner for Culture and Education. She stressed that there was a widespread feeling that the digital environment would lead to greater cultural and linguistic diversity – but only if we maintained and developed the diversity of individual creation in Europe.

The Commissioner also ensured that the Commission’s forthcoming Communication, the Innovation Union, would recognise the potential of the cultural and creative industries to unleash the creative skills of EU citizens and the innovative capacities of EU Member States. “The Innovation Union initiative will ensure that Europe continues to be identified worldwide as a leading creative hub. It will encourage experimentation, innovation and entrepreneurship, and foster new and creative partnerships”, said the Commissioner. She also underlined that “such partnerships – between cultural and creative institutions, businesses, universities and research institutions – can help the sector fully embrace the digital shift, push forward its boundaries, and play their role of innovation conduits for the whole economy and society”.

1 Sep 2010

Communicating Europe Is Not Like Selling Soap

According to EurActiv, the European Commission’s communication strategy is undergoing a significant structural change. It shall include a re-branding centred on President José Manuel Barroso, a new organisational chart and a key reshuffle of top officials.

The Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of communication issues, Viviane Reding, wants to bring about a “culture shock” and genuine “revolution” of existing Brussels communication methods, EurActiv has learned.

“We are not selling a piece of soap,” said Viviane Reding during the opening keynote address at the 2010 European Communications Summit. She shared her plans for “Communicating Europe” over the next few years, and discussed how the Barroso II Commission approached the challenge of effectively communicating the vision of Europe to its citizens, and worked to enhance the reputation of the European Union across the continent and the world.

 

Viviane Reding is about to give further details of her plans to other commissioners at the seminar scheduled for 1–2 September.

30 Aug 2010

MEPs Go Back To Work

On 30 August, the European Parliament resumes its activities with a week of meetings of parliamentary committees and political groups.

This week MEPs will prepare for the 6–9 September plenary session. The agenda includes the first “State of the Union” debate with the Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, an address from the President of Mali, legislation on animal testing, and debates on the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, press freedom in the EU and same-sex marriages.

 

On 1 September, the new Polish president, Bronisław Komorowski, will visit Brussels on his first trip abroad as the head of state. He will meet the heads of the EU’s three main institutions and then go to Paris and Berlin.

23 Aug 2010

e-Justice Portal

The European e-Justice portal, launched on 16 July 2010, offers quick access to comprehensive information on legislation, both at the European and national level in all the official EU languages.

The website can prove extremely useful for different target groups. Legal practitioners will find here information on case-law in particular Member States, justice networks or forthcoming judicial trainings. Information on business and insolvency registers as well as hints concerning monetary claims in the cross-border context will be of great use to entrepreneurs. On the other hand, citizens will benefit from the information on the costs of legal proceedings or the way of bringing cases to court across Europe.

The portal also features information on how to find a legal translator or interpreter. It contains references to official registers of translators and interpreters maintained at national level.

The website should enhance mutual understanding of legal systems throughout the EU and bring justice closer to European citizens.

The portal will be gradually developed and equipped with further tools useful to EU citizens, businesses and legal practitioners.

26 July 2010

PLuTO – Patent Language Translations Online

The increase in IP protection activities in a large number of countries, particularly related to patents, has increased the difficulty for SMEs and individuals to enter new markets. These difficulties arise due to the costs of entering a market – in terms of prior art search and translation – and constitute a large risk. However, it is still a necessity as language differences are no excuse in case of infringement.

PLuTO aims to overcome these barriers by providing an integrated, online translation tool, where several human experts (technical, legal, consultants) can take advantage of existing web-content and state-of-the-art, data-driven machine translation and information retrieval tools to collaboratively retrieve and translate patents.

By the end of the year 2013, PLuTO will also have an indexing engine, such that it will not only be used for machine translation, but also as a complete tool for prior art search by professional patent searchers or individual inventors.

PLuTO will be a professional Web 2.0 application, where translations provided or corrected by one user will improve the translation quality of subsequent translations for all users. Patent experts will participate in all stages of the solution, from the initial design phase, through its iterative improvements, to the final evaluation of the pilot. Ultimately, users will be able to shape the result of the project to match their concrete needs and pain points. It is considered that the most important tangible output of PLuTO will be the web-based collaborative platform for patent searchers, translators and lawyers.

See more: PLuTO

19 July 2010

Geographical and Labour Mobility in the EU

The report published this month by the European Commission – Special Eurobarometer – Geographical and Labour Market Mobility – shows how many Europeans take advantage of their right to work anywhere in the bloc – one of the main benefits of the European single market.

The survey shows that besides legal barriers, Europeans moving to another country face administrative and practical obstacles.

Language issues are still seen as the most likely difficulty encountered if working abroad. Just over half of Europeans expect that a lack of language skills will be a difficulty they encounter when working abroad. Problems with learning foreign languages are a disincentive for moving to another Member State for 19% Europeans.

Housing, adapting to a different culture and spousal employment are just a few of other significant factors influencing cross-border mobility.

The report is part of a renewed push to make it easier for Europeans to work abroad in the EU. The bloc’s new 10-year economic plan identifies a more mobile workforce as key to lowering unemployment, which has risen sharply during the recession.

7 July 2010

Belgian Presidency

1 July marks the first day of Belgium’s presidency.

Priorities of the Presidency include:

1) Return to economic growth

(e.g. strengthening the supervision of the financial sector; the establishment of the European Systemic Risk Board and the European System of Financial Supervisors)

2) Promotion of social progress and combating poverty and social exclusion

(implementation of the European employment strategy in the framework of the objectives set by the EU 2020 strategy for employment and growth)

3) Re-opening of negotiations concerning the climate and environment

4) Deepening of the area of freedom, security and justice

(e.g. activities concerning the protection of victims, directive on trafficking in human beings)

5) Global influence of the Union and the efficiency of its external actions, also with regard to the expansion

The further implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon, which came into effect on 1 December 2009, is also a priority for the Belgian Presidency. Together with the “magic square” of the Parliament, the European Council and its Permanent President, the High Representative and the European Commission, the Belgian Presidency will devote itself to a flexible, positive, constructive and harmonious collaboration.

See more: http://www.eu2010.be/

5 July 2010

Working for DG Translation

Translators interested in working for the European Commission can choose one of several options. They can work as freelancers for a translation agency which is a contractor of the EC or become contract staff of DG Translation. They can also be recruited as temporary staff or become an EU official and join the permanent staff of the EC. Each type of work has its advantages.

Currently, DG Translation of the European Commission is searching for translators with native-speaker standard English. On the video published on YouTube the translators from this department show how they work and encourage potential candidates to join them. They present DG Translation as one of the best places where you can work as a linguist, highlighting the opportunity to do work that really matters and use many languages on a daily basis. Besides, Brussels is considered to be a very nice place to live in.

DG Translation is launching the next round of exams in July 2010.

 

Watch the video:

http://www.youtube.com/user/DGTranslation#p/u/1/FCq02VafLhU

14 June 2010

Translation Rights for EU Citizens in Criminal Trials

New rules guaranteeing that EU citizens facing criminal trials in another Member State can have the proceedings translated into their own language have been just approved by the European Parliament. Under the rules, a British football fan arrested in Portugal would have the right to interpretation during police questioning, court hearings and communications with his lawyer. All essential documents would also have to be translated.

From suspicion to final decision

The minimum EU-wide standards on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal cases, which will also apply to the execution of a European Arrest Warrant, are set out in a new EU directive intended to improve the rights of suspects or accused persons who do not speak or understand the language of the proceedings.

These rights would apply from the time the person is made aware that he is suspected or accused of committing a criminal offence until the conclusion of the proceedings, including sentencing and the result of any appeal.

Interpretation and translation must be provided into the accused person’s native language or any other language that he understands and that allows him to exercise fully the right to defend himself. All essential documents, including decisions depriving a person of his liberty, the charge/indictment and any judgment, should also be translated.

The new EU law also sets out provisions on the quality of interpretation and translation, the right for the suspect to challenge the decision that there is no need for it, the right to complain of its quality and on training of judges, prosecutors and judicial staff.

See more: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/019-76134-165-06-25-902-20100615IPR76133-14-06-2010-2010-false/default_en.htm.

14 Apr 2010

Smolensk Tragedy

On April 13th the opening of the exhibition „Katyn. Massacre. Politics. Morality.” took place in the European Parliament in Brussels.

 

It was an opportunity to pay the tribute for all those who died in the catastrophe of the presidential plane. Polish President Lech Kaczyński together with his wife and an official delegation crashed near Smolensk in Russia on April 10th. They were flying to Smolensk for the 70th anniversary of the massacre of Katyń where thousands of Polish officers were murdered by the Soviets in 1940.

 

The exhibition was organised by the Secretary of the Council for the Preservation of Homage to Armed Struggle and Martyrdom in Warsaw Andrzej Przewoźnik who died in the plane crash and Member of the European Parliament Bogusław Sonik, and is held under the honorary auspices of the President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek.

 

President Barroso stressed that “It is not just a place where 22,000 Polish officers and intellectuals were murdered as this exhibition so powerfully reminds us, it’s also now the site of a catastrophic accident that wiped out a generation of important Polish figures.”

 

On April 14th the European Parliament held a special commemorative ceremony in memory of all the victims of the tragic plane crash. EP President Jerzy Buzek led MEPs in an act of remembrance, which included reading the names of all 96 victims, playing the Polish national anthem and the European anthem, and a minute’s silence.

Video:

Source: “Katyn massacre – politics and morality” EP exhibition

Source: EP commemoration for the Polish air crash victims

12 Feb 2010

Top of the Class

The winners of the European Commission’s third annual ‘Juvenes Translatores’ contest for schools were announced today. The 27 winners, one from each EU Member State, will be invited to Brussels in March to receive a prize from the European Commissioner responsible for multilingualism. Full details, as well as the winning translations, can be found on the ‘Juvenes Translatores’ website at http://ec.europa.eu/translatores.

‘I congratulate all the winners’, said Androulla Vassiliou, the Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. ‘Our translation contest is becoming more popular each year. This time 599 schools across the EU took part, with registrations up 30% compared to a year ago. I hope that the contest will encourage more young people to learn languages. Knowledge of languages can take you far and boost your job prospects. ’

In the course of a three-day trip to Brussels for themselves and an accompanying adult, each of the 27 winners will receive a prize and a certificate from Commissioner Vassiliou at an award ceremony on 25 March 2010. They will also get a chance to meet EU translators at work.

The latest contest was held on 24 November 2009 at the same time in all Member States and supervised by the schools. The pupils were given two hours to translate a text from any of the 23 official languages of the EU into another official language of their choice (for example, from Polish into French or from Swedish into Spanish). No fewer than 2 253 translations covering all the official languages and 139 language combinations were submitted.

Marking and evaluating the translations was no easy matter as the quality was very high and competition really tight. The panel entrusted with this task consisted of translators from the European Commission’ s Directorate-General for Translation (DGT). Each translation was assessed by a native speaker of the language into which the text had been translated. A board chaired by the Director-General of DGT then picked the best translation from each Member State.

The Juvenes Translatores contest is the only one of its kind in which 17-year-old school pupils can test their translation skills in any of the official languages of the EU. It was run for the first time in 2007 as a pilot project aiming to give a foretaste of what it is like to be a translator and to raise the profile both of the translating profession and of language learning in schools. From the outset it has created a lot of enthusiasm among the participating schools as it provides a true challenge in testing the language skills learned at school. Feedback from the teachers involved shows that it is also a lot of fun for the participants.

Source: EU Monitor

9 Feb 2010

EP Approves the European Commission

The European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favour of the new 27-strong team of European commissioners.

Each commissioner had previously faced a hearing in the European Parliament.

The Commission is the EU’s executive arm, responsible for drafting EU laws and ensuring that the 27 member states comply with the EU treaties.

MEPs cast 488 votes in favour of the Commission, 137 against and there were 72 abstentions.

Lisbon changes

The Parliament’s vote on the whole Commission was delayed by three months because ratification of the Lisbon Treaty was not completed until November.

Under the treaty, the number of commissioners will be reduced by a third by 2014. So this is the last time that MEPs have voted for a Commission with candidates drawn from every member state.

The president of the Commission, veteran Portuguese conservative Jose Manuel Barroso, had already been approved for a second term by the EU government leaders, before Tuesday’s vote in Strasbourg.

The new line-up includes the UK’s Baroness Ashton, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs. The new post, created by the Lisbon Treaty, also makes her a Commission vice-president.

MEPs cannot vote on individual commissioners – only on the whole Commission team. But they can force changes in its composition by rejecting the whole team. That happened in 2004, when Italy withdrew its commissioner-designate for justice, Rocco Buttiglione. MEPs disliked his opposition to gay rights and conservative attitude towards women.

Closer co-operation

Under the Lisbon Treaty the MEPs’ legislative powers have been expanded. It puts them on an equal footing with the Council – the grouping of member states’ governments – for most legislation, including the budget and agriculture.

On Tuesday the Parliament approved new principles of co-operation with the Commission.

The new rules include equal treatment for the Parliament and the Council regarding access to the Commission’s meetings with national experts.

There will be a new Question Hour with commissioners at the Parliament’s monthly plenary week in Strasbourg.

If the Parliament asks Mr Barroso to withdraw his confidence in a commissioner, “he must seriously consider whether to require the resignation of the commissioner or explain his refusal to do so before Parliament in the following plenary session,” the Parliament’s press service says.

Source: Euro MPs back new European Commission

26 Jan 2010

Polish Art in the European Parliament

Not long after the celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of democratic change in Central and Eastern Europe, the European Parliament is honouring artistic works from countries that joined the European Union in 2004, after decades behind the Iron Curtain. Following the presentation in 2009 of Latvian, Lithuanian and Hungarian works of art, on Monday, 25 January President Jerzy Buzek will open an exhibition of the Polish works of art most recently acquired by the European Parliament.

Artworks by ten Polish artists from the European Parliament’s fine collection can be viewed in Brussels until Thursday, January 28. The collection includes works by artists such as Anna Baumgart, Tomasz Ciecierski, Aneta Grzeszykowska, Ryszard Grzyb, Stefan Gierowski, Zofia Kulik, Włodzimierz Pawlak, Zbigniew Rogalski, Henryk Stażewski and Tomasz Tatarczyk.

With purchases made in recent years, the European Parliament’s collection now comprises a total of 363 paintings and sculptures. This collection is on display at the Parliament’s three places of work in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg and in its national information offices.

Source: [http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/037-67953-025-01-05-906-20100125IPR67950-25-01-2010-2010-false/default_en.htm].

19 Jan 2010

Multilingual Translation System Receives 25 Millions in EU Funding

All citizens, regardless of native tongue, shall have the same access to knowledge on the Internet. The MOLTO project, coordinated by University of Gothenburg, receives more than 25 million SEK (2.375 million euro) in project support from the EU to create a reliable translation tool that covers a majority of the EU languages.

‘The purpose of the EU grant is to enable us to use the MOLTO technology to create a system that can be used for translation on the Internet’, says Ranta. ‘The plan is that producers of web pages should be able to freely download the tool and translate texts into several languages simultaneously. Although the technology does exist already, it is quite cumbersome to use unless you are a computer scientist. In a nutshell, the EU gives us money to modify the tool and make it user friendly for a large number of users.

The project aims at developing the system to suit different areas of applications. One area is translation of patent descriptions. Ultimately, people around the world should be able to take advantage of new technology immediately without having to master the language in which the patent description is written. A large number of translators have long had to be engaged in connection with new patents. Another sub-project aims at meeting the needs of mathematicians for a precise terminology for translation of mathematical teaching material, and then there is one sub-project that concerns descriptions of cultural heritage and museum objects, with a goal that anybody should be able to access these descriptions regardless of native tongue.

The three universities participating in the MOLTO project are the University of Gothenburg, from where the project is coordinated, the University of Helsinki in Finland and the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Spain.

Source: [Multilingual translation system receives 25 millions in EU funding]

12 Jan 2010

Hearings of

Commissioners-Designate

On 11th January 2009 MEPs began the hearings of 26 Commissioners-designate. The hearings will take place this week in Brussels as well as next week in Strasbourg. They will also be broadcast on the Internet. Each candidate will be heard for three hours by the responsible parliamentary committee.

Both Baroness Ashton (High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) and Janusz Lewandowski (Budgets Commissioner-designate) who were heard yesterday gave reasonable answers, which should secure them a post in the EC.

However, there are Commissioners whose nomination sparked some controversy. These candidates may be rejected by MEPs.

On 26th January the EP will vote on the whole European Commission as a body.

See more on the EP hearings website: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/hearings/default.htm?language=EN&timeline=4.

12 Jan 2010

Spanish EU Presidency

On 1st January 2010 Spain took over the rotating six-month Council presidency. Spain presides over the EU already for the 4th time. However, this time it is the President of the European Council who will chair the European Summits instead of Spanish prime minister. That is one of the changes introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon.

Current relationship between Spain and the President of the European Council as well as the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy may set a precedent for future.

To the priorities of Spanish presidency belongs ensuring smooth functioning of the EU under the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty. Moreover, Spain will deal with such key issues as recovery from the economic crisis, gender equality, energy security and climate change.

Spanish presidency will last until the end of June, when it will be replaced by Belgium.

The official website of the Spanish presidency: http://www.eu2010.es/.

31 Dec 2009

Detention of Lyudmila Alexeyeva

Just two weeks after having been awarded the Sakharov Prize by the European Parliament, Lyudmila Alexeyeva was detained on December 31, 2009 in Moscow, together with about 50 other activists. The demonstrators were defending the right to demonstrate secured by the Russian constitution. Most human rights activists were released at the same day. Nevertheless, the detention is another proof that human rights are still violated in Russia.

30 Dec 2009

Multilingualism: Your Way to Creativity

Linguists have researched the impact of knowing more than one language on human brain for many years now. The hypothesis that learning foreign languages is beneficial to our mind is supported by many scholars and pedagogues. The authors of the Study on the Contribution of Multilingualism to Creativity, published in July 2009 by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA), also advocate this notion.

In the above mentioned study there are quoted the most relevant researchers dealing with the issue of links between multilingualism and creativity, memory capacity, ageing processes and interpersonal skills.

The European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009 is a great moment for promoting multilingualism as a multidimensional competence necessary to face challenges of the modern world.

 

18 Dec 2009

Sakharov Prize 2009 Awarded to Memorial

The European Parliament’s 2009 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought has been awarded to Russian civil rights defence organization Memorial, and their three representatives Oleg Orlov, Sergei Kovalev and Lyudmila Alexeyeva, as well as all other human rights defenders in Russia. Each year the EP’s Sakharov prize is awarded to individuals or international organisations who – like Sakharov – have distinguished themselves in the struggle for human rights.

This year we commemorate the 20th anniversary of Andrei Sakharov’s death, the man behind the EP’s human right prize. This year’s prize, consisting of a certificate and a cheque for €50,000, was awarded by EP President Jerzy Buzek in Strasbourg on 16 December.

 

Source: [http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/public/focus_page/015-66082-341-12-50-902-20091207FCS66069-07-12-2009-2009/default_en.htm].

14 Dec 2009

Challenges of EU Translators

What are the specific challenges that we face in the translations for the EU?

First of all we have to decide which approach to choose – whether to be faithful to the text or to the author’s intentions, whether to keep the foreign flavour or re-create a text as it might have been written in the target language.

The reality of the European Union makes this choice particularly difficult. In the case of legislative proposals, an extreme loyalty to the original text is expected. Even a decision to merge two paragraphs into one can have serious consequences in the event of unclear cross-references or further amendments to the text.

At the other end of the scale, press releases must be translated with more freedom, their purpose being to capture the interest of readers rather than to give a complete account of all aspects of an event.

 

On the other hand, translators who deal with EU texts often have to turn into ‘language detectives’. Literary translators, who work on texts produced by proficient native speakers, do not face this problem in such a large scale. This is due to the fact that texts in the EU are increasingly produced by non-native speakers, which influences their linguistic quality. The translator must try to find out what the author might have wanted to say and what are the linguistic and cultural references.

 

Last, but not least, translators contribute to the development of each official language, by coining terms for new concepts and ensuring that those that are generated through the European legislative process are translated following correct grammatical, and spelling rules. Thus, translators’ choices will influence the consistency and transparency of EU official languages.

 

To sum up, translators must be capable of remaining faithful to the original text while importing the message into their language, culture and vision of the world. Moreover, they contribute reasonably to the clarity of their native language and must assume responsibility for their choices.

Source: Seminar “Translation and quality control: how to get the message across”, Karl-Johan Lönnroth, Director-General for Translation, European Commission, 8 Sep 2009, [http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/translation/publications/presentations/speeches/20090908_translation_quality_control_en.pdf].

 

10 Dec 2009

EP President Jerzy Buzek Received the “Staatspreis”

Parliament’s president Jerzy Buzek received the “Staatspreis” for his lifetime achievements and to highlight the EP as a motor of European integration. The €25,000 prize is awarded by the German region of North-Rhine Westphalia. Mr Buzek said: “Thinking of the future and those who do not have the possibility to participate in our European integration project, I have decided to donate the prize money to the Belarusian University in exile, in Vilnius.”

Source: [http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/public/default_en.htm]

9 Dec 2009

Boosting the EU’s Use of German

German, alongside with English and French, is one of the EU’s working languages. However, its use in the European institutions, despite recent growth in the number of German EU officials using their native language professionally, is not so high as one would expect.

In the beginning of the development of the EU Germans were reluctant to use their mother tongue on international stage “for obvious historical reasons”. Now their attitude has changed.

Margareta Hauschild, director of the Goethe-Institut Belgien in Brussels, told EurActiv in an interview that there were considerably more German officials who speak German at the EU level than before.

“The German permanent representation, the Goethe-Institut and many others, including German employees in the European institutions, are working on improving the use of German in the EU institutions,” she said. Moreover, German government invests considerable resources in language trainings for EU officials.

Additionally, last December MEPs adopted a resolution calling on the Council to make sure EU presidency websites are always available in German. According to Hauschild, “there is still room for improvement regarding the number of EU documents translated into German” and the use of German in European institutions. She underlined that “the European Parliament is the role model (in comparison to the Council and the Commission) when it comes to promoting a multilingual Europe”.

Read the full interview: [http://www.euractiv.com/en/culture/culture-chief-room-improvement-eu-use-german/article-184224].

30 Nov 2009

New Budget Commissioner

On 27th November José Manuel Barroso unveiled the list of Commissioners-designate. The Commission president described his new team as “a good mix of skills, experience and gender” and thanked the Member States for their “excellent nominations”.

Polish MEP, Janusz Lewandowski shall be responsible for budget and financial programming – one of the most influential portfolios. At present, he is the head of the Committee on Budgets in the European Parliament and a member of the Group of European People’s Party (EPP).

Now the designated commissioners have to face hearings in the European Parliament. On 26th January final vote in the EP will take place. If the full Commission is approved, it will take office on 1st February.

Full list of newly elected Commissioners-designate (2009-2014):

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_designate_2009-2014/index_en.htm

 

20 Nov 2009

New EU Leaders

At a press conference held on 19th November, the names of individuals appointed to the new EU posts were presented.

Herman Van Rompuy (present Prime Minister of Belgium) was appointed the permanent President of the European Council. The first “EU President” will chair the European Council and drive its work forward as well as represent the EU internationally.

Catherine Ashton (currently Trade Commissioner) was appointed the other top job introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon – the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. She will be responsible for EU’s common foreign and security policy, chair the meeting of Foreign Affairs Council, as well as be one of Vice-Presidents of the European Commission.

President of the European Council and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will take up their roles on December 1st, 2009, when the Treaty of Lisbon enters into force.

20 Nov 2009

10 Things About The Lisbon Treaty You Should Know

 

Treaty of Lisbon – you may have heard quite a bit about it recently. As it has been finally ratified by all 27 Member States, it’s high time to find out more about the main changes that it will bring to us.

 

Citizens’ initiative: If 1 million Europeans present a petition to the European Commission then it would have to look at ways of introducing the proposals. Alternatively it could force the Union’s executive to look at ways of repealing legislation.

Lawmaking: The European Parliament would become an equal in terms of lawmaking with the Council of Ministers, where national governments are represented.

Policy: Members of the European Parliament would be on an equal legislative footing with the Council regarding EU agriculture and fisheries policy, trade policy, legal immigration and EU structural funds, to name just a few.

National Parliaments gain an increased role in EU decision making with the treaty giving them eight weeks in which to argue their case if they feel a draft law oversteps European Union authority.

An EU President: European leaders will have to elect a new EU President to chair their 4 summits a year and set out the agenda ahead. This would replace the six monthly rotations and the holder is likely to be the public face of the Union.

High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy: The second new job created under Lisbon. The powerful EU “foreign minister” will chair meetings of Foreign Affairs Ministers, oversee the multi-billion EU aid budget and run the proposed European External Action Service – a European diplomatic corps.

Double majority in Council votes: The treaty changes the voting arrangements in the Council of Ministers. New arrangements mean that instead of voting by unanimity measures can now be carried if they have 55% of the votes in the Council from counties representing 65% of the EU’s population.

Commission President elected by MEPs: Any new President of the European Commission would be elected by the European Parliament.

Charter of Fundamental Rights: The Charter becomes legally binding meaning all laws must adhere to it. The UK and Poland have certain opt outs on this point.

Withdrawal: For the first time countries have the right to withdraw from the European Union.

Source: The official website of the European Parliament:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/public/story_page/008-62269-292-10-43-901-20091009STO62247-2009-19-10-2009/default_en.htm [15 Oct 2009].

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