Wednesday 19 December 2018

Irish blamed for EU's overspending on translation service

(AP)
(AP)
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

THE high cost of translating EU stories into Irish is being blamed for the European Parliament overspending its budget by millions of euro.

The Parliament set up a website earlier this year which aims to become a virtual library of testimonials and stories from people across Europe.

Participants are asked to upload text and images to the ‘My House of European History’ page to explain what Europe means for them and how they see themselves as having contributed to its history.

However, the project has now been hit with controversy after it emerged officials have asked for an extra €1.5m to help fund its translation department.

According to documents obtained by the Telegraph the upkeep of the website has cost €3.7m more than expected. It had a budget for the year of €8.2m.

Documents cite the higher than expected need to translate stories into Irish as central to the cost overruns.

Private translators in Brussels charge on average €21.91 per page but for some languages the cost can be higher.

Irish is the most expensive, according to the internal document, at a going rate of €42 per page.

British politicians have linked the controversy to the ongoing dispute with the EU over how much the UK should pay for Brexit.

Some have described the project as a “vanity” website and propagenda.

Andrew Bridgen, Conservative MP for North-West Leicestershire, said: “This is why we should resist the huge so-called EU divorce bill.”

The European Parliament’s in-house team routinely translates reports and papers into the 24 official languages of the EU as part of its commitment to multilingualism but outsourcing in the first five months of this year has soared.

Over first five months of the year 228,000 pages were outsourced and by the end of the year this figure is expected to rise to 547,000.

The parliament  has a 30pc cap on the use of private translators for its work but is running at 35.45pc.

A European Parliament spokeswoman said that the funds would not be new money from the budget but taken from other funding streams.

She said that the the in-house team had overperformed by 123% compared to its maximum capacity but still needed outside help.

“This is because more translations were needed into Irish and because of more contributions by citizens of stories to the My House of European History”, she told the Telegraph.

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