(see also MEMO/10/441)
The European institutions' interpreting services face a potential succession crisis for Italian interpreters and are launching an awareness campaign in Italy to attract young people to an interpreting career with the EU.
The European Commission's Representation in Italy is delighted to invite you to the presentation of the video clip "" (in Italian) followed by a debate chaired by Marco Benedetti, Director General of Interpretation, European Commission, today Friday 24 September 2010 from 11.30 to 13.00 at the European Commission's offices, Sala Natali (2nd floor), via IV Novembre 149, 00187 Rome
In the next ten years the European Union’s interpreting services could be faced with a serious shortage of Italian interpreters.
Since the European Community was set up the Italian language has always played an essential role as an official language of the European Institutions. By way of illustration, at present there is an Italian booth in approximately 45% of the meetings organised by the Commission’s DG for Interpretation, in 58% of the meetings organised by the European parliament’s DG for Interpretation and in around 50% of the hearings held within the three bodies which make up the European Court of Justice. These figures have remained constant over recent years. Thanks to their initial and ongoing training, the Italian language interpreters are able to guarantee a wide range of language cover in a European union which today has twenty-seven Member States and twenty-three official languages. On average, the Italian interpreters working for the interpreting services of the three institutions each know four to five languages, a figure matched by few other language units. This means that other booths frequently turn to the Italian booth for languages which they do not know themselves. For example, the interpretation into Italian of a speech made in Bulgarian may be used by other booths which are not able to interpret that speech directly.
Over the next ten years a considerable number of Italian language interpreters - both staff and freelance - will be retiring: over 40% of current staff may leave the service by 2020. This will entrain the loss of people who have extensive professional experience and language knowledge. It is therefore essential that the new interpreters replacing those reaching the end of their careers should possess the necessary professional and linguistic abilities; abilities which can be acquired by following conference interpreting courses of a sufficiently high level to meet the quality requirements demanded by the European institutions. In addition to acquiring the essential technical skills of consecutive and simultaneous interpreting, a future interpreter has to know the major economic and legal issues and be familiar with the activities and functioning of the institutions of the European Union.
Italian - the language of one of the founding member states - is not the only language faced with the threat of a shortage of qualified interpreters in the institutions of the European Union. The English booth, where around 50% of staff and freelance interpreters are likely to retire over the next ten years, will be the hardest hit, followed by the languages of the other founder countries: for German, Dutch, and French the corresponding percentages are respectively 45%, 41%, and 40%.
It is particularly important for the new generation of interpreters to have a anguage profile which will make it possible to guarantee the necessary language cover in those meetings where an Italian booth is present. One of the most sought-after language profiles is the combination of French, German and English. However, other profiles will also be considered in the light of the needs of the various institutions. Thanks to ongoing training, young interpreters can consolidate and broaden their language combinations. Besides a thorough knowledge of their passive languages, interpreters are obviously also required to possess an absolute mastery of their mother-tongue, the basic tool in the communication process of which the interpreter is part.
A career as an interpreter with the EU institutions: a new challenge every day in Europe’s nerve-centre
The EU institutions regularly organise accreditation tests or freelance interpreters and open competitions for staff interpreters. The last competition was held in 2007-2008. These tests and competitions are inter-institutional and thus open up employment and career prospects with three institutions: The European Court of Justice, the European Parliament, and the European Commission.
Working as an interpreter with the EU institutions means that you are constantly at the centre of current affairs, of political reality, and of the European decision-making process, in the place where politicians and administrators from the twenty-seven states - and from various European and international organizations - come together. The interpreter’s task is to enable people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds to communicate and to pursue our common project of building peace and prosperity. Given the wide range of topics the interpreters are able to go on enriching their own knowledge and cultural awareness, as well as to constantly develop their mental agility and their capacity to adapt to ever-changing situations and contexts in the field of communication.
The work of the interpreters allows the participants in a meeting to speak their own languages - an essential contribution to maintaining Europe’s rich linguistic diversity. Moreover, EU interpreters work on a daily basis in close contact with colleagues from all over Europe and beyond.
Staff interpreters have a secure position as well as the option of transferring to other services within the EU institutions, if ever they decide one day to make a different career choice. Freelance interpreters, on the other hand, are free to choose when and where they work.
To learn to be an interpreter involves improving one’s language and communication skills as well as understanding how to analyse and transmit a message: skills which can be useful in all sorts of different careers.
Once you have completed training as a conference interpreter you can apply for an accreditation test at this address
For further information about conference interpreter training courses in Europe, use this link:
The video clip
As part of their ongoing awareness-raising activities, the interpreteing services of the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the European Court of Justice decided to make a video-clip for young people interested in a career as an interpreter. The video-clip, entitled ‘’, will be presented in Rome on Friday the 24th September and will subsequently be available on a number of national and community websites, as well as on YouTube at the following address:
The first video-clip of this type was made for the Latvian public in 2008 by the European Commission.
Others followed, addressed to young people of English, French, German, Swedish, and Spanish mother-tongue. Work is ongoing on a video-clip addressed to a Dutch speaking public, to be released shortly.
The European Union’s interpreting services are on:
Facebook: "Interpreting for Europe"