EU the Polyglot
By Rytis Martikonis, Director-General of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Translation
Europe has been and will remain fundamentally multilingual. Multilingualism is not only a goal and a policy choice, it is also a fact of life, a cornerstone of the European project. The EU's motto is "united in diversity," and the variety of languages spoken across Europe is one of the most salient expressions of this diversity which the Union – in its founding Treaties - is committed to respect. EU - its politics, its laws, its institutions - speaks 24 languages.
The ability to communicate in more than one language is key to fully profit of the European Union: languages is about freedom of movement! It is about people, goods and services; it is about better employment opportunities; it is about more inclusive society, about sense of European citizenship. Many of these are enabled by translation.
As head of the world's biggest public translation service I witness daily the potential and changing needs of the language sector. We, the DGT, play an active role in many projects of different scale addressing these issues, like Connecting Europe Facility and machine translation ([email protected]) or Erasmus+ and European Master's in Translation. The red thread in these is the respect of people's own language and democracy by providing them information in that language through good quality translations.
Stakeholders are at the heart of many of the European projects, and the language industry is indispensable in numerous projects bringing together languages, translation, training. We do share a number of common interests: potential of the language sector, its resilience and innovation, prestige and visibility. This is why I note with great pleasure the GALA awards for the young EMT Star winners at GALA Istanbul last month. Inviting the star students to witness the dynamism of the language industry and job opportunities it has to offer gave them the opportunity of a lifetime which they clearly profited from. I am also convinced this initiative will serve as a good practice in introducing students and graduates to the world of translation and, thus, ensuring business continuity of the language sector in the years ahead. It is indeed through cooperation like this, by linking the working life and training, that we gained the most effective results and improve the skills of graduates entering the job market for the first time.
Cooperation and networking across stakeholders - professionals, academia, industry associations like GALA, and language and research institutes - are high on the agenda of the DGT. We want to offer a place where all the main constituencies of translation stakeholders can meet to exchange and develop good practices, seek synergies and develop projects of cooperation, including for the future of the profession. This is why we will inaugurate this year the Translating Europe Forum. The opening event will be a central conference, which will be held in Brussels on September 18th and 19th. It will be followed by a sequence of workshops in the member states where regional and local players will be invited to meet up and discuss concrete issues affecting the profession, like the skills gap. I use this opportunity to invite you all to these events and to actively contribute in developing the profession further.
More information can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/translation/programmes/translating_europe/index_...
Rytis Martikonis has been Director-General of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Translation since 2011. He holds degrees in law, political science and international relations. He started his career in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, where he last worked as Secretary of State. From 2005 to 2010 he was Lithuania's Permanent Representative to the EU.