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International Federation for Information and Communication Processing INTERSTENO

The European Parliament: 24 languages, one official report

presentation by Olivier Danjoux

report by Dick Boersema

Brussels, 17th July 2013

Producing an official report of all the plenary debates in the European Parliament (EP) might sound like an impossible job, considering that the European politicians speak 24 different languages. In the building of the EP in Brussels however, about one hundred Intersteno Congress participants got an introduction into the making process of the verbatim record of the EP.

One day after each plenary debate, the so called ‘rainbow report’ is ready: by then, you can read what politicians have said in their own language. If you happen to be more interested in the translation of what they have said, you are refered to the EP website. There you can hear the real time translation by the interpreters, in any of the 24 languages of the European Union. Mr. Danjoux gave a thorough explanation of the cooperation between his twelve staff members in Luxemburg and the interpreters who work for the EP.

Mr. Danjoux is not a reporter himself. He together with 3 other colleagues attends meetings of the Parliament, whether they are in Brussels or in Strasbourg. There he works with Carton, a central database that collects information about the timeline of a meeting, about the members of the EP who speak during the meeting, the language they choose and the non-verbal utterances they might make. By doing this, mr. Danjoux and his colleagues prepare the distribution of the translation of all the speeches. Also, they create time stamps for the purpose of the videographic representation of the debates on the internet. Due to the rise of the video, reports are being made more ‘authentic’ than they used to be: they are less stylistically and grammatically polished.

The presentation slides for this presentation are available on our Downloads page.


Cracks in the ceiling of the Central Hemicycle unfortunately made it impossible for the Intersteno Congress’ participants to visit this room, where meetings of the EP take place when the EP resides in Brussels. Therefore, the group was welcomed in  a smaller room, that might be considered a scale model of the hemicycle. There, the differences between the EP, the European Council and the European Commission were clarified by EP-official mrs. Yperman.

Many people nowadays complain that the EU is pacing towards an United States of Europe, mrs. Yperman stated. She herself thinks this is not true, at least not yet. That is also an opinion, and Yperman justified it: everyone should feel free to express a bit of his own opinion in the democratic house of the EP, she said. She also criticized the growing distrust in the EP, also amongst national politicians. They tend to say that Brussels decides what European legislation comes about, and that they, unfortunately, have to implement this legislation into their national laws. That is a little bit of an unfair presentation of reality, mrs. Yperman said. She added that Brussels is also them, and European legislation is an agreement that their own prime ministers make.

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