Bundestag returns badly translated EU documents/Bundestag schickt schlecht übersetzte EU-Dokumente zurück

The Local reports that dozens of badly translated EU documents were returned by the German Bundestag as incomprehensible.

According to a report in Tuesday’s Saarbrücker Zeitung newspaper, the Bundestag has had to send over a hundred important EU documents back in this legislative period alone, because its committee members could not work out what they were supposed to say.

Some EU documents are now seen as a “consultation obstacle” – and this at a time when parliamentarians across Europe are fighting to tackle Europe’s debt crisis.

The flawed translations have apparently slowed the work of the interior, finance, budgetary, economic, and defence committees in the German parliament. The paper also says that German versions of the documents are sometimes missing altogether.

Note also the comments.

Yet the translators working in EU offices at Brussels or Luxembourg are earning huge wage and enjoying tremendous benefits, compared to their peers. Shameful.

Nonsense, none of the incomprehensible stuff will have been produced by the translators working in EU offices. Most of the work is outsourced to translation agencies, who further outsource it to freelancers. The lowest tender gets the contract. I’d put this down to cost-cutting and the use of inscrupulous middlemen, nothing else.

Of course, a good opportunity for ill-informed ranting on EU translation costs:

Yay! Spend more of our tax money to re-translate badly translated documents.

“The EU institutions spent around €1 billion on translation and interpreting in 2007, representing around 1% of the EU budget or €2.50 per citizen. This figure would continue to rise by 5% annually.”


Here is the lowdown on that from DG Translation:

2 – How much does DG Translation cost?

€300m a year (estimated) — or some €0.60 for every EU citizen.

Since 2004, the Commission has been able to handle vastly increased demand for translations as new countries have joined the EU — and continue its primary duty of providing legislation in all official languages — without increasing costs unduly.

In 2004–07, the number of official EU languages doubled from 11 to 23, but Commission translation costs increased by only 20%.

According to certain very rough estimates, the cost of all language services in all EU institutions amounts to less than 1% of the annual general budget of the EU. Divided by the population of the EU, this comes to around €2 per person per year.

Here is the original article in the Saarbrücker Zeitung.

Der Vorsitzende des Europaausschusses, Gunther Krichbaum, sagte der Zeitung, die EU-Kommission habe schon vor Jahren eine neue Übersetzungsstrategie versprochen. „Doch passiert ist bis heute leider gar nichts.“ FDP-Experte Stefan Ruppert beklagte: „Es werden immer mehr.“ Auf Antrag der Koalitionsfraktionen wird sich der Bundestag an diesem Donnerstag mit dem Problem beschäftigen. Nach dem Willen von Union und FDP soll die Bundesregierung auf bessere Übersetzungen pochen und dafür sorgen, dass genügend Mittel im EU-Haushalt bereitgestellt werden.

The Bundestag will be discussing the matter on Thursday.

Also in Die Welt (thanks, Dawid).

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