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Machine Translation Service

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MT@EC

When is this action of interest to you?

You receive a question or a request in an official EU language you do not understand, and you need to see if it is relevant for you and who you could forward it to for further action. The new European Commission machine translation service allows you to quickly check the general meaning of incoming information and fall back on human translation when you need high quality translation.

What is this action about?

Documents used by the European Commission, other European Institutions and public administrations in the multilingual environment of the European Union need to be available in different national languages. The sheer volume of content makes this an impossible task to achieve using human translators alone.

The European Commission provided a machine translation service for a number of years, based on "rule-based" Machine Translation technology. The service delivered a certain level of automated "raw machine translation" quality for a small number of language pairs.

In the past few years, however, machine translation technology has shifted towards Statistical Machine Translation (SMT), which opens new opportunities, given its quality, time-to-market and development costs.

With MT@EC, the Commission has now launched a new system based on SMT that provides an improved machine translation service in terms both of quality of output and number of supported languages. A total of 552 language pairs covering all of the EU official languages are currently provided. The service run by the Commission guarantees continuity and quality of service, as well as respect of confidentiality and other legal aspects related to trust in information exchange.

What are the objectives?

  • operation of a common Statistical Machine Translation service, MT@EC, offered by the European Commission and used by European and national public administrations;
  • option to customise the service for specific administration needs.

What are the benefits?

Benefit
  • Increasing speed so the receiving administration quickly understands the information without having to wait for a translation and "routes" it to the right person/department.
Beneficiaries
  • European Commission Services
  • Member States' public administrations
Benefit
  • Reducing cost since human translators in the receiving administration will only receive requests to translate the specific pages of an incoming document deemed important.
Beneficiaries
  • European Commission Services
  • Member States' public administrations
Benefit
  • Enabling asynchronous machine translation of working documents, letters, e-mails, etc.
Beneficiaries
  • Member States' public administrations
  • European Commission Services
Benefit
  • Facilitating easier information exchange within and between interest groups, between judicial collaborators etc., based on their expertise and not on the knowledge of the working language(s) of the group.
Beneficiaries
  • Member States' public administrations

What is our approach?

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation (DG Translation) established an action plan to develop a new machine translation service in June 2010 focused on three areas: data, engines, and service.

The data/language resources required for the MT@EC service are collected and managed by DG Translation. The ISA programme contributes to "IT and organisation", i.e., putting in place the appropriate IT infrastructure, and developing the IT and organisational environment for developing and operating the basic generic (so-called "baseline") MT@EC service.

The ISA action covers the following elements:

  • infrastructure for training and running the system;
  • engineering of the MT@EC baseline MT engines;
  • engineering of the system for dispatching requests for MT and output;
  • helpdesk operations;
  • reception, technical analysis and implementation of requests for "custom engines";
  • contacts with European and national administrations, users of the system.

Project stages:

  • During the inception phase (2010-2012) the key users of the service and their requirements were identified and the scope and boundary conditions for MT@EC established. After examining architectural options and elaborating proofs-of-concept an executable architectural prototype was implemented
  • The Execution phase (2012-2013) focused on developing and deploying the first production release of MT@EC and on integrating it with related Commission IT systems and processes;
  • During the current pilot operation phase (2013-2014) the focus will be on elaborating and testing methods and structures for better serving the needs of different types of customers - including Member States’ public administrations - under different conditions of use.

Contact the Programme Manager - ISA Action 20800

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