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DG Interpretation

A brief history

From the beginning, the Directorate General for Interpretation, previously known as the Joint Interpreting and Conference Service - SCIC, from its French acronym - has been a part of developments in the European Union (formerly the European Community) and has kept pace with each enlargement.

2005: The European Commission approves its first comprehensive framework strategy on Multilingualism, comprising language learning, languages in the economy, and languages in use with the citizens and the EU Institutions. Irish is recognised as an official language from 2007 (with some restrictions). Co-national (regional) official languages are recognised by the Council of the Union. Member States can fund limited provision of translation and interpretation into these languages in the EU Institutions. Spain requests limited interpretation from Basque, Galician and the language spoken in Catalonia, on the Balearic Islands, and in Valencia.

2004: Enlargement with ten new countries and nine new languages on 1 May: Czech, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Hungarian, Maltese, Polish, Slovakian and Slovenian. Meetings in 20 languages are held routinely. The European Commission decides to reinforce the conference organising and technical capacity of DG Interpretation and creates Directorate D SCIC Conferences.The Council of the Union introduces a system of “on request” interpretation for many working group meetings. Commissioner Jan Figel is the first Member of the Commission to have “Multilingualism” in his portfolio.

2003: In October, the European Commission approves a reorganisation and administrative reinforcement of the Joint Interpreting and Conference Service (SCIC), and creates the Directorate General for Interpretation. The internally used acronym, SCIC, is maintained and interpretation units are created for each of the new languages foreseen for the following year.

2002 : Strategy for the SCIC and Enlargement is finalised. The European Commission approves a Communication from Vice President Neil Kinnock on Conference Interpreting and Enlargement : A strategy for the Joint Interpreting and Conference Service in the lead-up to 2004.

2000 : New Units are created in order to boost preparation for enlargement and the use of new technology in conference interpreting. A programme is launched to hold accreditation tests for free-lance interpreters in the candidate countries at least once a year. Cooperation with universities and pedagogical assistance is reinforced.

1998 : SCIC is preparing for the enlargement ahead by training staff interpreters in the future languages and cooperating with universities in Member States and candidate countries.

1997 : In-house interpreter training is discontinued in application of the subsidiarity principle and in order to concentrate the SCIC's efforts on its core task interpreting. SCIC begins a series of annual conferences with national authorities, universities and interpreter schools, bringing together all stakeholders in interpretation. SCIC starts to provide interpreters for the Commissioners' multilingual internet chats.

1995 : Austria, Finland and Sweden join the European Union. Finnish and Swedish become two new official languages, bringing the total number of official languages of the Union to 11.

1986 : Accession of Spain and Portugal. The number of official languages is now nine: Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

1981 : Accession of Greece. Greek becomes the seventh official language and in April 1981 the Interpreting Directorate becomes the Joint Interpreting and Conference Service (SCIC).
It provides interpreters for the Commission, the Council of the Union, the European Economic and Social Committee, the European Investment Bank (Luxembourg) and, later, for the Committee of the Regions and the different European foundations and agencies.

1973 : Accession of Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom. The Interpreting Division becomes a Directorate. Particular emphasis is given to training in the two new official languages, Danish and English. There are now six official languages.

From 1979, training activities are also organised in Member State universities. Non-member States also ask for technical assistance and in 1979 Chinese interpreter training begins.

1964 : Training. Due to the continuing shortage of qualified interpreters with the necessary languages, in-house conference interpreter training of university graduates begins.

1958 : The Treaty of Rome establishing the EEC and the Treaty establishing Euratom come into force and President of the Commission Walter Hallstein sets up an Interpreting Division with 15 staff interpreters.

1952 : The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) is created. There are four official languages, those of the six original Member States: French, German, Italian and Dutch. It has a small group of interpreters.