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Chief Interpreter for European Commission Steps Down

Language Industry News and Events

The Chief Interpreter post will be filled on an interim basis while the European Commission seeks a new head to fill the position.

After acting as the European Commission (EC) Directorate General for Interpretation for four years, Florika Fink-Hooijer has stepped down to fill the role as Directorate General for the Environment, reporting to Virginijus Sinkevičius, commissioner for Environment and Oceans at the EC. The move has left the EC in search for a replacement Chief Interpreter.

Beginning in 2016, Fink-Hooijer led the Directorate General for Interpretation, also known by its previous French acronym SCIC. The SCIC is the world’s largest interpreting service with over 500 interpreters on staff, supported by 3,000 additional freelance interpreters.

The post came under fire recently after the EU COVID-response effort excluded thousands of freelance interpreters, a common theme for freelance workers during the pandemic. The Association of Conference Interpreters (AAIC), an international trade union, issued a press statement in June that highlighted the importance of supporting interpreters.

“Conference interpreters are facing financial losses that, in some cases, represent up to 100% of their income. Because of the nature of their contractual relation with the Institutions, most freelance interpreters will not be eligible for national aid measures, even if their Member State of residence were to adopt support measures for this category of workers,” the AIIC said.

Following the departure of Fink-Hooijer, the current deputy Carlos Alegria will take over as acting General Directorate for Interpreting on an interim basis as the EC searches for a new head. Alegria served as an interpreter for the SCIC from 1985-1993.

Furthermore, the EC is looking at women candidates for the new Chief Interpreter to meet its 2019 target ratio of 40% women in official posts, according to UEPO.de. Currently, women make up 38% of leadership in the EC.

The new President of the EC, Ursula von der Leyen, “has set her goals even higher: by 2024, half of all managers within the Commission administration should be women,” the report said.

According to UEPO.de, “Since Florika Fink-Hooijer is replacing a man in DG Environment, a renewed female occupation of the chief interpreter’s post would offer the opportunity to increase the proportion of women at this important management level. A total of 33 Directorates-General work for the Commission.”

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SDL Tados 2021

European Commission Campaign Promotes Translation

Translation

From health services to entertainment, translation impacts an inexhaustive list of industries. The European Commission has created the #DiscoverTranslation campaign to inform audiences of the vital role translation plays in our society.

The European Commission announced the launch of #DiscoverTranslation, a campaign aimed at emphasizing the pivotal role the translation industry plays in the global economy. Releasing an informational statement this week, the European Commission provides a brief report on how a world without translation would function.

“Without translation, the world would be a duller, poorer and more unequal place, both economically and culturally, where only the ´happy few´ with a knowledge of other languages would have access to goods, information and culture from other countries,” the statement opens. “Translation has oiled the wheels of human interaction and helped [civilizations] evolve for thousands of years. Even today, could you imagine a world without online services, news from other countries, or subtitles for your [favorite] TV series? No translation, no fun!”

It goes on to describe cross-cultural relationships in which translation plays a key role in mediation, including international trade, legal proceedings, and new technologies.

“Before buying stuff or booking a trip abroad, many people want information so they can compare them,” it states. “If they can’t find this information in their language, they might go and shop somewhere else: research has shown that 75% of consumers prefer to buy products in their native language. And 60% rarely or never buy from English-only websites. Without translation, online shopping would be limited to national markets.”

The mission of the campaign states the goal to “promote the translation profession to audiences outside the language industry.” With that in mind, the statement looks at many of the ways the larger population can take translation for granted. Many important industries are listed on the document for their reliance on translation to function effectively.

“[Translation keeps] us healthy by avoiding potential allergens in food/chemicals/medicines, all listed in the ingredients/composition,” the list begins. “[It enables] economic interaction across borders—from marketing and sales to political and scientific cooperation, helping investors make informed decisions, enforcing legal rights and obligations.”

Also among the list, news in foreign languages, emergency communications, and cross-cultural entertainment and arts all utilize translation to reach global and multi-regional audiences. While it is not an exhaustive list, it gives readers some foundational information regarding how translation is more ubiquitous in our lives than we might expect.

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