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Legal translations in the EU

News on 07.08.2012

The European Union includes 27 Member States and 23 official languages. They are all bound by laws and obligations in equal measure. And this is a decisive point as it has to be ensured that these rules carry the same meaning and are understood equally in all languages. First drafts are always presented in English, but then have to be translated into all official languages. How does this process work, and how is it guaranteed?

In addition to translators, lawyer-linguists from the European Parliament are brought in. Further to their native language, they must be proficient in two further languages, e.g. Swedish, English and Spanish. They must also be able to connect, in the case of legal translations, their specialist legal subject knowledge with their linguistic ability. They do not, however, take up the position of a translator. It is primarily their task to correctly implement the legal aspects, and to envisage these in another language, in order to avoid any double meanings from the outset.

Translators and interpreters must then transfer these new drafts into another language, e.g. from English to Bulgarian. With an established specialist vocabulary in their respective subject areas, and with the legal background of the lawyer-linguists, the laws are translated in such a way as to ensure that the citizens and business in the EU understand the law, and can apply them accordingly.