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EU LANGUAGE REGIME

 

By compiling and updating data on the state-of-play of the Slovene departments of the translation, interpreting and legal-linguistic services within the EU institutions – e.g. human resources, working methods, terminology, etc. - the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ensurescirculation of information among all stakeholders participating in the process of preparing Slovene versions of documents in the framework of EU functioning. By preparing guidelines for ministries regarding the expert-terminological participation in the drafting of EU legal acts in Slovene, corrigenda procedures relating to the already published Slovene documents, and directories of translators, interpreters, language revisers, terminologists, lawyer-linguists and terminology experts, it attempts to create a regulated framework for interinstitutional networking within which the interdisciplinary cooperation initiated during Slovenia’s pre-accession preparations can be carried on after the EU institutions took over the preparation of the Slovene version of EU legal acts, and uniform solutions for terminological and legal style dilemmas can be more efficiently sought. 

 

Detailed information on the language regime of the Union can be found on the web pages of the EU itself: Multilingualism. The European Union is well aware of the special importance of its language policy; this area falls under the responsibility of Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, who is responsible also for education, culture and youth.
 
 
SLOVENE – OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF THE EU
 
In accordance with one of the fundamental principles stipulating that the EU legislation should be available to all citizens in a language they can understand, every binding legal act must be simultaneously prepared in all EU official languages. This principle was set out by Council Regulation No. 1 of 15 April 1958 determining the languages to be used by the European Economic Community. This Regulation lays down the legal basis for the use of Community official languages (Articles 2 and 3), the obligation of the institutions to draft Community documents in all official languages (Article 4), as well as the obligation to publish the Official Journal in all language versions (Article 5). Upon accession of every new Member State whose language becomes one of the EU official languages, all relevant provisions are amended so as to include its official language as well – thus, when Slovenia joined the EU, the Regulation No. 1 was adapted by the Accession Act (Official Journal of the EU C 227 E of 23 September 2003). Since 1 July 2013, there are 24 official languages in the EU-28.
 
Council Regulation No. 1 from 1958 was adopted for the four languages of the first founding members of the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community: Dutch, French, German, and Italian; further enlargements involving an increasing number of official languages made the situation more and more complex, therefore, a new practical rule had to evolve implying that in numerous intermediate stages during the adoption of legal acts and documents only the main procedural languages are used, while all fundamental rules on the use of official languages as stipulated in the Treaties and Council Regulation No. 1 are consistently respected. The legislative procedure including the preparation of all language versions is described in detail in the "Manual on the Participation of Slovene Government Representatives in the Decision-making Procedures in the EU" (available only in Slovene "Priročnik za sodelovanje slovenskih vladnih predstavnikov v postopkih odločanja v EU"). Dedicated to updated instructions regarding the use of languages in the EU context is the manual "Slovene in the EU Institutions" (available only in Slovene "Slovenščina v institucijah EU").
 
Although Article 1 of Council Regulation No. 1 determines that all official languages are also working languages of the EU, the term "working languages" (also "procedural languages") is nowadays mostly used to denote primarily English and French, to a lesser extent German – i.e. procedural languages of the daily communication among the officials within the EU institutions, on the occasion of their internal meetings and on preparing some of their internal and preparatory documents.
 
The manual "Slovene in the EU Institutions" is a brief, user-friendly instruction on the use of Slovene as an official language of the Republic of Slovenia and the European Union and is intended for Slovenian civil servants who represent Slovenia as an EU Member State within the EU institutions. The document has been prepared in accordance with the Resolution on the National Programme for Language Policy 2007–2011, i.e. measure 8b which has been adopted "with a view to strengthen the responsibility of Slovenians for the Slovene language as a mother tongue (identification function), as an official language, and as a full contributor to the European language diversity (development of adequate self-confidence while experiencing increasing opportunities and needs for communication between speakers of various languages)”.

 

The manual merges the experience of the state administration in EU decision procedures with the findings of Slovenian participants in the Dylan Project (with this project the European Union aims to explore how a linguistic diversity can be an asset in companies, EU institutions and educational systems). The manual was written by Slovene language experts from the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana, who have participated in the Dylan project, in cooperation with the Department for EU Law and Language Regime of the Government Office for Development and European Affairs.

 

 

SLOVENE DEPARTMENTS OF THE TRANSLATION SERVICES WITHIN THE EU INSTITUTIONS
 
In order to actually implement the fundamental rules of multilingualism, a considerable institutional structure for translation and interpreting is required and also put in place from the first day of any new membership. More than 170 translators and lawyer-linguists are engaged in the preparation of documents in Slovene within the EU institutions. It is a general rule in these translation services that translators translate only into their mother tongue. The status of a regularly employed translator/official can be acquired on the basis of complex tests in the framework of EPSO competitions.
 
Almost all EU institutions and bodies have their own translation services for all official languages, while the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union provides translations for all bodies and agencies that have no such services. Some of the institutions employ also Slovene lawyer-linguists who participate in the preparation of the EU legal acts and perform final revision of acts in the Slovene language. The contact data of the heads of Slovene departments can be found in the official directory of the European Union; the e-mail addresses of department mailboxes have been compiled in the manual "Slovene in the EU Institutions", and in case of incomplete data you can contact our Office for further information.

More information on multilingualism and departments for national languages in the EU institutions can be found on their respective web pages:
European Commission
EU Council
European Parliament
Court of Justice of the EU 
Joint Services of the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions
Court of Auditors
European Central Bank
Translation Centre for the Bodies of the EU
 
 
EU TERMINOLOGY
 
As described in detail under Legal and Linguistic Databases / Evroterm and Evrokorpus, the creation of Slovene EU terminology was part of the pre-accession linguistic preparations managed by the former Department for Translation, Revision and Terminology within the Government Office for European Affairs (GOEA); in 2000 it became publicly accessible on the government web pages. Within the first year after accession, the GOEA made its terminology database available to some Slovene departments of the EU institutions which committed themselves to consistently use the compiled terminology prepared through interdisciplinary verification and authentication procedures.  Thus, the Slovene translators in the EU institutions still use Evroterm and Evrokorpus, the largest Slovene databases of EU terms, while, in the last years, terminology of all EU institutions has been systematically compiled and edited in the interinstitutional databaseIATE (Inter-Active Terminology for Europe) accessible directly or via the Evroterm page.

 

For the purposes of electronic consultation on terminology, a Slovene terminology forum has been established on the CIRCA web page – thus, also experts from Slovene public administration and faculties can take part in discussions.
 
Considering the specific technical terminology of the EU documents and the constant time pressure under which they work, it is of utmost importance that the translators have quick access to relevant national experts who are frequently users of these documents responsible for transposition or implementation of EU legislation. It is extremely difficult to correct bad terminology once it has got into the system ("once wrong always right-syndrome"), thus it is essential to solve the problems or at least to identify them in time for the Council to get it right before the final adoption of the act.


In order to improve the consultation system relating to the EU terminology in Slovene and based on measure 12d of the Resolution on the National Programme for Language Policy 2007–2011, the Office attempted to establish a new mechanism for EU terminology verification.

 

More about this pilot project in the "Draft Proposal for Setting Up of the National Mechanism for EU Terminology Verification" (available only in Slovene Predlog za vzpostavitev nacionalnega mehanizma za potrjevanje terminologije EU).

 


INTERPRETING

 

Three of the EU institutions have their own interpreting services: European Commission, European Parliament, and the Court of Justice of the EU. Directorate General for Interpreting of the European Commission (frequently named SCIC – French acronym for Service Commun Interprétation-Conférences) is the largest and most important service providing interpreters for the majority of EU institutions. More than 70 interpreters of Slovene have acquired the accreditation that is a prerequisite to being engaged by the EU institutions: beside 20 regularly employed officials, the EU institutions engage 52 contractual interpreters.
 
Interpreting has a long tradition in the EU institutions; the established interpreting regimes are based on special EU rules.
 
Every year in April and November, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs coordinates the requests for interpreting in the working groups of the EU Council submitted by Slovene ministries and sends the list of all requests to Secretariat General of the EU Council. Ministries can choose between active and passive interpreting "on request".
 


TECHNICAL AND BILATERAL ASSISTANCE IN THE FIELD OF LINGUISTIC PREPARATIONS FOR EU MEMBERSHIP
 
Another important activity of our Ministry in the linguistic field is the assistance to the Western Balkans countries in their linguistic preparations for EU-integration. In years 2004–2005, a twinning project with Macedonian Secretariat for European Affairs was successfully concluded in the framework of a CARDS programme, a part of which was also the assistance in strengthening the Translation Unit. In 2006, a twinning light project with the Translation Service of the Directorate for European Integration within the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina was implemented by experts from the former GOEA, Translation Service of the General Secretariat of the Slovene Government and the Government Legislation Office, its result being the setting up of a multilingual terminology database in the BiH official languages. Linguistic preparations for EU membership are also a regular subject of bilateral discussions with other countries from this region who are very interested in the Slovene experience in this field. In 2010 we completed the implementation of a two-year twinning project with the Translation Coordination Unit of the Ministry for European Integration of the Republic of Montenegro as the beneficiary.
 
 


Contacts: 
Department for General and Institutional Issues

 

 

 

 

(Last change: 23 December 2013)