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C 60/74 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 25. 2.


(98/C 60/108) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1980/97

by Peter Skinner (PSE) to the Commission
(9 June 1997)

Subject: Heavy Goods Vehicles − fiscal regimes and movement controls

What action is the Commission taking to coordinate and harmonize HGV fiscal regimes and movement controls
to ensure fair competition, and complete the single market in this sector?

Answer given by Mr Kinnock on behalf of the Commission

(31 July 1997)

In July 1996 the Commission adopted a proposal for a Council directive on the charging of heavy goods vehicles
for the use of certain infrastructures (1) intended to replace Directive 93/89/EEC (2), which regulates road fiscal
matters in the Community.

The Commission proposal is currently under examination in the Council and the Parliament which gave the
proposal a first reading in July 1997.

Regarding movement controls, the Honourable Member is referred to the Commission’s reply to written question
E-41/97 by Mr Cornelissen (3).

(1) OJ C 59, 26.2.1997.

(2) OJ L 279, 12.11.1993.
(3) OJ C 186, 18.6.1997.

(98/C 60/109) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1983/97

by Kirsi Piha (PPE) to the Commission
(9 June 1997)

Subject: Documents translated into Finnish

In the past few days there has been negative publicity in Finland about the uneven level of Finnish translation of
Commission documents. Some of them have contained particularly bad grammatical errors and their texts have
been hard to understand or even completely unintelligible.

In the press reference has been made in this connection to the brochure on competition in urban and regional
planning issued by the Commission’s regional policy division, which is a glaring example of bad translation.
However, according to expert opinion, this brochure was not translated by a Finnish native speaker and it may
even have been translated by machine.

In order to avoid this type of scrutiny, does the Commission intend to issue internal instructions to all its
departments and units using translation services to the effect that they must make use in their translations only of
professional translators selected for this task by means of competitions, and must also ensure that a person who
receives a document for translation speaks the language into which he is translating as his mother tongue? Will
the Commission also ensure that there are enough Finnish language translators to translate all the necessary
documents properly?

Answer given by Mr Liikanen on behalf of the Commission

(11 July 1997)

A brochure mistakenly understood by some to be a European institution publication triggered the recent debate
on the quality of Finnish translations of Community documents. Such was not the case. The document in
question, presented by the daily Helsingin Sanomat in its editions of 20 May 1997, related to the competition for
the Urban Planning Award, which is organised by the European Council of Town Planning, a body totally
independent of the Commission and any other European institution. Although the organisers received a
Commission grant, neither the brochure nor its translation was published or financed by the Commission or by
any other institution.
25. 2. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 60/75

The body in question had first drafted an English text for the brochure, to be subsequently translated into the
other Community languages, including Finnish, by a London translation agency. According to the information
received by the Commission, the Finnish version was printed and distributed without revision. The quality of the
translation left a lot to be desired, hence the criticism wrongly laid at the Commission's door. In order to prevent a
recurrence of such a situation, the Commission drew the attention of its departments to the importance of
checking the quality of such translations and to the need to avoid any possible confusion as to the origin of a
publication. Quite apart from this incident, it is true that the quality of Finnish translations made at the
Commission's request may occasionally have left something to be desired in the past.

Finnish translations are usually done by the Commission's own translators. Sometimes when the workload
requires it, they are carried out by free-lance translators or translation agencies. The texts are then revised by the
Commission, which also monitors quality. Sub-contracting cannot be totally ruled out for Finnish or the other
languages. It relieves a temporary overload in the translation units and, in some particularly specialised areas, it
provides the expertise which guarantees terminological accuracy.

Preparation of the Finnish versions of documents is not always simple. The Community has introduced a large
number of entirely new concepts for which Finnish equivalents had to be found in a hurry. Moreover, under
Community law, all language versions are authentic. As a result, texts are transposed on the Indo-European
model, often making the Finnish versions very cumbersome.

In 1996, the Finnish language units in the Commission − without counting those in the other institutions −
produced a total of 90 000 pages, of which roughly 80% was entirely translated in the units and the remainder
sub-contracted. The other institutions have their own translation services.

At present, the Commission has in its Translation Service 70 officials (translators or revisers) who are
responsible for the Finnish versions of its documents. The translation office in Helsinki, which will function until
the end of July 1997, has another 22 translators on temporary contracts. Competition procedures are currently in
train so that an adequate number of Finnish-language translators can be recruited and so that by the end of the
year the number of staff in the Finnish units can be brought up to the level provided for in the budget, i.e. the
same number as in the other language units, or a total of 100 translators and revisers. It should be emphasised that
Finnish is the mother tongue of both the officials in the Finnish units and the free-lance translators whom the
Commission customarily uses.

Nevertheless, it has not always been easy to find translators able to translate into flowing Finnish. Until recently,
translators in Finland were trained to translate into foreign languages rather than into Finnish itself.

Past experience has shown that the ‘running in’ of a new official language takes several years. After two and a
half years, significant progress has been made with Finnish.

A language coordinator responsible solely for Finnish was appointed by the Commission at the beginning of
June. He will be responsible for ensuring that the language is used properly and for organising the in-service
training of translators. Special attention will be paid to the clarity and fluidity of the written language. Lastly, the
choice of style for each translation is to be determined more by the specific style of the original, so that all
documents do not appear to be based slavishly on a legal or administrative model.

(98/C 60/110) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1988/97

by Roberta Angelilli (NI) to the Commission
(9 June 1997)

Subject: Application of Community law in Italy

There are constant reports in the Italian press of Italy’s very poor record when it comes to implementing
Community law.

Replying to a question tabled by several MEPs, including myself, the Commission revealed that there were
410 different proceedings under way against Italy as at 6 March 1997.

Can the Commission specify how many directives have not yet been transposed into Italian national law?

Can it also give more general details of the course of an infringement procedure against a Member State?