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There have been a couple of recent references here to this EU language priority document

Does anyone know why the EU is so keen on 2 languages that are used very rarely in EU meetings. Colleagues who already have Russian, for example, frequently complain about how rarely they get to use it so why encourage more?

asked 23 Jun '14, 16:17

Andy's gravatar image


edited 24 Jun '14, 03:23

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It's only guesswork, but let me give it a try. It'll be a bit more technical than usually, since the Employability Coefficient is an essential criteria in having a freelancer sustainably based in Brussels - which I'd tend to believe is the aim here.

  • DG SCIC does not work with mixed teams.

Une équipe est dite « mixte » si elle comporte des interprètes qui n’ont pas été recrutés par les Institutions européennes, (...) et qui fournissent des relais à l’équipe de la DG SCIC.

Source: Section 3.2.2. (page 21 - document only available with SCIC credentials) of the Manuel pour les réunions avec interprétation - Guide pour Interprètes et Chefs d’Equipe d’Interprétation

  • People who would be only accredited let's say AR<>EN or RU<>EN and based in Brussels wouldn't make a living, given the low demand.

  • Yet, the DG needs people able to provide a retour from these languages or be pivot. Even if there were to be an external AR booth doing EN>AR, the SCIC team couldn't take AR>EN from them (mixed team concept again). Also, regulations require at least two pivots per language.

  • People who do work with those languages are likely to be based in Paris or Geneva.

  • Getting those people in town costs about twice as much as hiring locals. Hiring last minute can be complicated and the service would benefit of having someone based in town.

  • Having EN A, FR C, DE C plus AR C would allow the ACI to make a living in Brussels as a newcomer. While the third C language wouldn't be used that often, it still does give 0.5 points for the Employability Coefficient, making that person more likely to be hired than a colleague with only FR & DE but no AR. And with 3 Cs, the ACI is also eligible for long term recruitment, provided the quality rating gets up to 2.0 after the newcomers' facility scheme - unlikely in the EN booth, I know, but if the ACI has passive RU, he/she might have worked for the UN in the past and hence be a senior from day one at the EU. So the ACI could stay in town for a few years and have a Employability Coefficient of 7.0 (4.0 local DP + 1.5 language + 1.5 competency)to 7.5 (4.0 local DP + 1.5 language + 2.0. competency).

  • Should that not be enough and should the service have a strong interest in keeping the ACI based in Brussels, the HOU could award discretionary bonus points which then would make the ACI more competitive and likely to be recruited.

  • In a nutshell, there might be profiles out there which are not UN specific (i.e. AR A, EN B) but could do a full EN booth with a regular beginners' EU combination (FR C or DE C + a C2) and a non-EU language. These people could be based in Brussels and actually make a living, yet be less expensive for the service and more available.

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answered 23 Jun '14, 17:56

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

edited 23 Jun '14, 18:10


Thanks Gaspar, that sounds plausible, but if it's right I wouldn't recommend young interpreters learn AR or RU for the EU (and I am regularly asked by students and young interpreters, here and elsewhere, what languages they should add ). It's a very flaky basis for a huge investment in 2 languages that require more time and effort than most. And as ever, there is no written assurance that any one language will get you more work or points.

(24 Jun '14, 01:14) Andy

We can't stress enough that a priority language is one that will land you a test date, but not necessarily a language that'll guarantee a regular income. SCIC needs people with priority languages to be able to cover all odd demands.

These languages represent a tiny fraction of work. On one hand, there's less competition, so one's more likely to be recruited (provided the "rare language" booths' staff don't provide a retour), but on the other hand, there's way less demand.

I'm no EN booth expert, but I'd tend to think that someone with FR, SL & CS will get less work than someone with FR, DE, ES.

(24 Jun '14, 09:06) Gaspar ♦♦
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question asked: 23 Jun '14, 16:17

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