Translating gets costly for EU

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sun Jan 30 16:21:32 UTC 2005

>>From the Philadelphia Enquirer,  Posted on Sun, Jan. 30, 2005

Translating gets costly for EU

By Raf Casert
Associated Press

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Translation costs at the European Union are set to
pass $1 billion a year as the economic bloc struggles to accommodate 10
new members after its expansion into Eastern Europe and the Baltics,
officials say. Critics chafe at the sum, but to many it is 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
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

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 official
languages. 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.
Despite the "big bang" of nine new tongues in May, Anderson said, "we are
doing quite well, thank you. We have shown we can operate in 20

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