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Multilingualism

The European Union has 24 official languages. All legislative and informative EU documents are translated into these languages – guaranteeing that all citizens can understand the laws which apply to them, be well informed and take part in public debates.

The importance of language coverage on the Commission's Europa website has increased since the Lisbon Treaty more explicitly defined the roles of external actors in EU policy.

There is, however, no legal framework governing the language coverage of the EU's digital presence, nor is there any legal obligation to translate web content, except when a legal act stipulates that a specific site must be available in all EU languages.

Our aim is to provide Europa visitors with web content either in their own language or in a language they can understand – as determined by their real needs.

 

Providing multilingual web content

  • The language issue is one of the first aspects to be tackled when new content is created. Define the language of the web content according to target audience, type of content and available resources.
  • Notify DGT at the earliest opportunity – especially regarding volume and number of languages. Include DGT in the drafting process from the start, in particular by providing sample texts for comment and linguistic advice.
  • Send content for translation (relevant deadlines and possible delays to be taken into account in the overall planning). For information on how to request translations (available resources, procedures, etc.), see the “Tools” section below.
 
 

In addition to the above, if you are creating a NEW website:

  • Define the language policy for the management of functional mailboxes (i.e. how to handle incoming messages in any language, translation of both messages and replies, multilingual collection of standard replies, etc.)
  • Define navigation policy for languages (including splash page, if any).
  • Describe the language choice in the “About this site” section, with a reference to the general languageā€‘coverage page.
  • In the design phase, keep in mind that adjustments might be necessary, depending on the language.
  • Follow language-related IPG recommendations on URLs, file naming policy, site names, procedure for requesting a URL, etc.
  • When choosing the templates for your site, keep in mind all the relevant multilingual elements: keywords, metadata, characters ALT, WAI, etc.
  • When planning the promotion of the site, define all language aspects related to both the site itself and the promotional tools.
 
 

Work Guidelines and references

Tools

DGT is able to help you translate your documents in 24 languages. However, not all texts can be treated on an equal basis. Different priorities and solutions are on offer according to the documents’ importance and nature. DGT offers a variety of linguistic treatments and language tools which can be found on its site.

Contacts

Further information on multilingualism issues can be requested by email to the EUROPA team.