The language of reform in the European Union

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Fri Oct 19 22:38:03 UTC 2007


Letters
------------------------------
*The language of reform in the European Union*

*Friday October 19, 2007*

*Guardian*
I have long been an advocate of reform of the European parliament's hugely
expensive and increasingly unsustainable interpretation and translation
policy (Never mind the treaty squabbles, Europe's real problem is Babel,
October 18). The fact is that English, much to the chagrin of the French,
has become the language of choice now in Brussels.

Further enlargement of the EU will cause yet more increases in costs and
bureaucracy. I caused a lot of upset to Croatian nationalists recently when
in a speech I called for Croatian, Serbian, Montenegrin and Bosnian all to
be considered the same language if and when they become EU member states. I
pointed out that the international criminal tribunal for the former
Yugoslavia manages to use one synthetic language for these countries.

If the UN, with 192 member states, manages with six working languages,
surely the EU does not need 23 languages for 27 countries. Diversity is all
very well, but pandering to language nationalists and wasting lots of
taxpayers' money is not a sensible policy.
*Charles Tannock MEP*
Con, London

Timothy Garton Ash complains about the expense of translation and
interpreting in the EU. Can I look forward to an article on the cost of
transport in the EU next week (because of the unfortunate design of Europe,
whereby different countries aren't actually in the same place)? Or the cost
of paying journalists to write hot air like this? It's a fact of life that
communication between languages requires facilitation. That is where
translators like myself and interpreters come in. The service we provide is
as essential as that provided by the countless EU bureaucrats.
*Peter Bowen*
London

Your piece about the absurd cost of translation in the EU should be a
warning to Commonwealth leaders meeting in Kampala next month. They will be
reviewing the criteria for membership of new states, adopted in Edinburgh in
1997. They must hang on to one of the principles agreed then, that all
Commonwealth meetings have to use English. This not only saves expense, but
promotes speed, frankness and informality.
*Richard Bourne*
Associate fellow,
*Victoria te Velde*
Acting head, Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit, Institute of Commonwealth
Studies

Problemo? Kiu problemo? Esperanto, sinjoro Garton Ash. Esperanto!
*Paul Gubbins*
Congleton, Cheshire

Eurosceptics should ignore the ranting of Polly Toynbee (We can't let the
Euro-crazies drag us out of the club, October 16), for this is no way to
conduct a rational debate on a serious issue.

Each treaty stage of the development of the Common Market into an
increasingly integrated EU has been marked by a steady transfer of power
from the UK parliament and people to EU institutions. Now political is
overtaking economic integration as the EU arrogantly tries to assert itself
in an indifferent world. Its superpower ambition is a relic of outdated
imperial dreams.

Let Polly dream on and let the rest of us have a chance to say no.
*Eric Deakins*
London

As supporters of the Coalition for the Reform Treaty, we encourage
successful negotiations on the European treaty currently being negotiated by
Gordon Brown and other heads of government (Leaders, October 17).

The measures in the treaty are not only in the EU's interest but in
Britain's interests too. They propose various changes which have been made
necessary by the policy of enlargement. The EU's membership has almost
doubled from 15 members to 27 members since 2004. Enlargement to eastern
Europe, while being one of the most spectacular foreign-policy success
stories of recent times, has meant that the EU needs to reform its
institutions.

Reading some of the coverage of the treaty, one could be forgiven for
missing the fact that it actually increases the UK's voting weight in the
European Council by 45%, and other institutional changes make it more likely
that the UK can accelerate reform in priority areas.

Furthermore, we welcome an agreement because it brings the period of
uncertainty about the EU's institutions to an end. It will allow us to look
to the future with more confidence so that the EU can stop talking only
about institutions and take action in the areas such as climate change,
energy security and the competitiveness of Europe in light of the economic
rise of China and India.

*Roland Rudd*
Chairman, Business for New Europe,
*Mary Creagh MP*
Chair, Labour Movement for Europe,
*Joyce Quin*
House of Lords and chair of the all-party group on Europe,
*Phil Bennion *
Chairman, Liberal Democrat European Group,
*Robert Moreland*
Deputy chairman, Conservative Group for Europe,
*Robert Philpot *
Director, Progress,
*Brendan Donnelly *
Chairman, Federal Union,
*Dr John Ryan *
Jean Monnet Association,
*Alex Bigham *
Head of communication, Foreign Policy Centre,
*Peter Luff *
Chairman, European Movement,
*Dr Olaf Cramme*
Acting director, Policy Network,
*Nick Mabey*
Chief executive, E3G

Your leader says we should recognise how the anti-Europeans consistently
exaggerate the threats to our national independence. Indeed. They need only
read Ian Traynor's article on Poland on the same day (Electorate prepares to
pass judgment on divisive politics of Mr Clean, October 17) to find out how
a member state can set up a secret police force with draconian powers to
crack down on liberal political dissent, purge pluralistic TV and generally
establish an extreme conservative society. What are the Eurosceptics worried
about?
*Cecil Fudge*
Hindhead, Surrey Guardian Unlimited (c) Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

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