The translations of written documents for the European Commission are organized and managed by the Directorate General for Translation (DGT) for all 24 official EU languages. The DGT faces a difficult task because in addition to translations of legislation, policies, news, websites, confidential documents and other types of texts, it also provides all the Commission teams with consultancy services related to languages and multilingual websites, oversees the correct use of terminology, evaluates translations and much more besides. In short, it helps the Commission communicate with the public in a language they understand, making the European Union more open and democratic.
The DGT employs 1527 language professionals, such as translators, proofreaders, validators, language technology experts and terminologists, and about 700 other staff. Every year, the EU translates some 2.2 million pages. Of this, almost 100,000 pages are translations into and from Czech.
The current tender covers the period between 2020 and 2024. Potential tenderers must first of all be able to demonstrate in writing that every member of their translation teams has the necessary expertise, experience and technical competences to be able to provide translation services at the required volumes, including express delivery projects. As translations are often confidential, it is also necessary to give due consideration to NDAs and security. All translations must also respect EU terminology and the Interinstitutional Style Guide issued by the Publications Office of the European Union.
Tenderers who meet the above requirements will be invited to tests for translators and proofreaders and to draft a case study to cover a certain translation project scenario. The tests are held online, on a specific date and time, against the clock. The European Commission uses the test results as the most important selection criterion, for which it deserves credit. In many similar calls for tenders organized by various state institutions in the Czech Republic, the bidding price is the most important criterion and quality is often ignored.
Finally, the Commission selects several potential vendors who will be invited to participate in translation projects for the EU.
However, even after a four-year contract is signed, the selected vendors cannot take anything for granted. The DGT runs random audits to make sure that the translation services are rendered in compliance with the applicable requirements. Moreover, the DGT evaluates each translation or revision strictly, and if issues are identified repeatedly, the vendors face the risk of penalization or even the termination of their contracts.
It is therefore quite clear that being a translation vendor for the EU is not a piece of cake and that not every LSP can take part in the tender. We are considering this possibility. In any case, the meeting at the European House was very highly motivating indeed, because we simply love everything about translations.
Translations are our passion!
Author: Irena Šotková