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An interpreters Guide to the EU 2015

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The file downloadable below is David Walker's all new 2015 guide to the committees and workings of the EP. It is a thematically grouped collection of English expressions heard on the floor of meeting and compiled in the booth by David. Other language versions are only offered when they are not cognates of the English. Although based on debates in the European Parliament you will find that using this Guide is like brainstorming with a few well -informed friends on any subject you choose - very handy catch phrases for every occassion.



A word from David...

Ever since I started working in the EP I have kept copious notes in the booth [see also dekalog 3]. I tidied them up in WordPerfect at the end of the week, and then in Word and every couple of years I would get a hundred or so copies printed up and distribute them to colleagues. [This became the Committees Guide which you download or open below]. Then five years ago I got seriously interested in Polish and the guides had to take a back seat. I still wanted to keep track of my own meetings so I loaded all the files into Excel in a single file and over that period I updated them, but without having the whole thing between two covers, so all I was doing was making myriad little changes, moving things around, making sure that there was no duplication by using Edit, Find and cycling through the whole thing. Over time, I found that little sense units began to form, making the overall thing more like a thesaurus and less like a tabulation of entries. I kept it as an attachment on my e-mail and would print out chunks as and when needed. Andy has now prevailed upon me to let him post it on his site, which I am happy to do since he has kindly agreed to do all the fiddly maintenance as long as I send him the new version every three months, which I think is a good deal.




This guide sets out to provide a quick overview of one aspect of the European Parliament's work, its Committees. A companion guide to the Parliament's Delegations is also available.

Given the speed of delivery and the often hermetic nature of discourse in parliament's committees and especially in plenary session, it is important for interpreters to be able to speed up the process of familiarisation.

Fortunately, three factors work in the interpreter's favour. Firstly circularity. A particular item will have been debated several times, from the initial exchange of views in committee, at different stages of procedure, in the political groups and occassionally down the wire in the conciliation meetings.

Secondly , parliamentary language is formulaic. And I will leave it at that for the time being will always do for nada mas.

Thirdly, the code, once cracked, is consistent. Non-compulsory, guideline, committments, draft estimates, and take up rates may need disambiguating for the layman, but they are crystal clear for the listener in Budgets.

The five sections cover,

1 Parliamentary language, idiom and procedure

2 Things legal (legal affairs, institutional, internal affairs, defence)

3 Things economic (economic and monetary, budgets, internal market, industry, information society)

4 Things environmental (environment, public health, consumer protection, BSE, energy and reserach)

5 Sectoral policies (agriculture, fisheries, social affairs, women's rights, transport, regional policy).

The organising principles are few in number but systematically applied:

La parole prononcee fait foi

(all expressions jotted down during meetings)

Birds of a feather flock together

(thesaurus style contextualisation rather than dictionary definitions, grouping of acronyms) Concision

(no explanations, no duplication)


(ƒ character used to represent opposites, pairs, triplets, enumerations)


(boxes, shading, unit titles, bold type for keywords, illustrations, etc to break linearity)

Italicisation of reported speech

(phrases with strong connotation over and above content)

Morphological dissimilarity

(linguistic equivalents and near-equivalents given only where they do not contain cognates).

Indexes to the sections are to be found at the beginning of each section and a summary, overall index has been added at the end*.

The guide is intended primarily as a priming tool in the sense that a quick look at the relevant section will, hopefully, serve to activate phrases before a meeting in a sttructured way and help to minimize the number of unnecesary choices.

Finally, having the thing between two covers* makes the subject matter covered reassuringly finite but two large, industrial staples, while functional, are less than aesthetic. Any good copy shop will put on protective plastic covers and a black spiral spine making it infinitely easier to consult, keep open or indeed annotate*.

* applies only to the hard copy



The paper version, which is more manageable than the database, looks like this. If you should happen to be passing throught the European Parliament, or know someone who is, we strongly recommend picking up a copy. This page is taken from a section on the environment. You can clearly see the thematic grouping of terms. When you use the XL file, keep this page in mind.



The best way to use the XL file is to use the search function to find one word that relates to the subject you want to "brainstorm" on. Then look above and below the word to see if you are in exactly the thematic section you need not. Imagine you are preparing for a meeting on pollution in towns or on exhaust emissions. You type the word "car" into the search function in XL and search in the Guide. The first mention of the word "car" comes in the section below...

implementing rules,modalités d'application

inward processing, perfectionnement actif, aktiver Veredelungsverkehr

non-excise goods subject only to VAT

paying the full rate of tax

release for home use, mise a la consommation second-hand cars


FSAP, Financial Services Action Plan

ENRON, IAS international Accounting Standards, IAS board, the IAS regime, normes comptables

draft regulation and implementing provisions

... this is very obviously not a thematic section about pollution, but more likely about customs and taxation. So we search again and arrive at the next mention of "cars" and that gives us...

hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, piles a combustion

vehicle types

HGV heavy goods vehicles, driver's certificate, LKW Lastkraftwagen

heavy-duty diesel engines

vans (low-powered light utility vehicles), schwachmotorisierte Nutzfahrzeuge

categories 2 and 3

passenger cars, PKW Personenkraftwagen

manufacturers, production run of vehicles, new engine families being developed, relax the standard

mandatory introduction, meet the standard, Vorgaben

statutory recall procedures

exhaust emissions

limit values for sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and lead in ambient air, Grenzwerte this is about emissions and pollution! Scroll up and down the list until you reach the boundaries of the section on pollution, mark and copy what you want and paste it to a file you can print out and take with you to the booth. (This is just part of the pollution section, but you can see how this might be helpful as part of your preparation.)

The file is a 1MB MS Excel file Click here to download the pdf file




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