The Language Service of the Council General Secretariat
The Language Service plays a key role in the European Council's and the Council's application of the rules governing the languages used by the European Union's institutions. Its main task is to provide all the translations necessary so that the documents on the basis of which the European Council and the Council hold their discussions are available to them in all the official and working languages. Those translations must be of suitable quality and available in time, often under very tight time constraints. The Language Service plays no part in multilingual oral communication at meetings, which is a matter for the European Commission's Directorate-General for Interpretation (formerly the SCIC).
In 2009 the Language Service translated into the official and working languages some 13 000 documents, or about 100 000 pages; more than 4 500 of these documents were translated into 21 languages. The total number of pages of translation exceeded 490 000. The work is done almost entirely in-house; outside translation is resorted to only where necessary. This has been provided by the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union since 2008.
At the end of 2009 there were more than 650 translators in the Language Service, with a support staff of more than 350 officials and other staff. The Service is organised in language units corresponding to the official and working languages of the institutions. Translators can specialise to some extent in specific technical or policy areas and take specific training courses for this purpose. Nevertheless, they are involved in the translation of all types of document intended for Council bodies.
The Language Service cooperates closely with the lawyer linguists of the "Quality of Legislation" Directorate, which is part of the Council's Legal Service and whose main task is the legal finalisation of the legislative texts which the Council adopts.
Since 1995 there has been significant cooperation between the translation departments of the Union's institutions and bodies, steered by the Interinstitutional Committee for Translation and Interpretation. One of the visible results of that cooperation is the interinstitutional terminology database IATE accessible to the public through the Internet and the joint funding and sharing of support tools for translation.
The recruitment of translators and support staff for the Council's Language Service, as for those of the other institutions, is handled mainly by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO).