CAN THE EU
WRITE CLEARLY?
IALS, 2014
©William Robinson
1
Introduction
Legislation applying to 28 Member
States
24 authentic languages
Obstacles to clarity
Some responses
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“Europe” 2013
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EU language regime
The official languages and the working languages
of the institutions of the Union shall be
Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch,
English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German,
Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian,
Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese,
Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and
Swedish. ...
Regulations and other documents of general
application shall be drafted in the official
languages.
(Regulation No 1/1958, Art 1 and Art 4)
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Standard English
Standard English of Ireland and the United
Kingdom
Multiculturalism: avoid terms specific to one
culture
Spelling
£ 1,999.50 = GBP 1 999,50
€ 50.50 = Fifty euro and fifty cent
(NOT Fifty euros and fifty cents)
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Eurospeak?
Competence (Art. 5 TEU)
Subsidiarity and proportionality (Art. 5 TEU)
Principle of conferral (Art. 5 TEU)
Configuration of the Council (Art. 16 TEU)
Acquis (Art. 20 TEU)
Enhanced cooperation (Art. 20 TEU)
Complementarity (Art. 210 TFEU)
Troika (of the three successive Council
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Presidencies)
Eurojargon?
Communitarisation, Deconstitutionalisation,
Lisbonisation
Regionalisation
Comitology
Agenda, Mainstreaming, Facility
Concrete action, concrete steps
“an upstream actor in the supply chain”
(Regulation No 98/2013)
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Envelopes and facilities?
Decision No 1/2004 ... on the use of the
reserve of the long-term development
envelope as well as resources from the
Investment Facility of the ninth European
Development Fund for the establishment
of an ACP-EU Water Facility
(Official Journal L 289 of 10.9.2004, p. 68)
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Obstcles to clarity
Summitspeak
Deliberate vagueness
Use of a still evolving lingua franca
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Summitspeak
We need plain language, not Eurobabble, which is
understood only by an elite, and virtually
unintelligible to a Europe Minister, let alone an
average voter. At European Union Summits,
politicians and journalists are trapped in a
security cordoned bubble talking to each other.
Then they talk the same summitspeak to a
perplexed and alienated outside world.
We need a new popular language if we are to
reconnect the European Union to its citizens
(Peter Hain, Minister for Europe, Port Talbot, Wales,10
22.2.2002)
European Council 2008
The European Council endorses the guidelines evolved at
the ministerial meeting in Marseilles on 3 and 4
November 2008, which made it possible to define the
working methods of the Union for the Mediterranean.
Within the framework of the structures put in place, it
calls for the further ambitious implementation of this
initiative in all its dimensions.
Likewise, the Eastern Partnership will bring about a
significant strengthening of EU policy with regard to the
Eastern partners of the European Neighbourhood Policy
in a bilateral and multilateral framework, to complement
the other forms of cooperation already existing in the
Union's neighbourhood, such as the Black Sea Synergy,
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which will have to be taken into account.
Vagueness
Taking into account the elections to the European
Parliament and after having held the appropriate
consultations, the European Council, acting by a
qualified majority, shall propose to the European
Parliament a candidate for President of the
Commission.
(Treaty on European Union, Article 17(7))
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Lingua franca
English is particularly suitable as Europe's lingua
franca because of its functional flexibility and
spread across the world, and because English is
already "de-nativised" to a large extent: the
global number of non-native speakers is now
substantially larger than its native speakers
(about 4:1). English is no longer "owned" by its
native speakers because acculturation and
nativisation processes have produced a
remarkable diversification of the English
language into many non-native varieties.
(Professor Juliane House, 2001)
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Hard cheese
The seasonal nature of the production of certain
long-keeping cheeses and Pecorino Romano,
Kefalotyri and Kasseri cheese is aggravated by
the fact that the seasonality of consumption is
the inverse of the seasonality of production. The
fragmented production of such cheeses further
aggravates the consequences of that
seasonality. Therefore, provision should be
made for recourse to seasonal storage in
respect of a quantity corresponding to the
difference between summer and winter
production.
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(Regulations Nos 1244/2004, 827/2005, 734/2006)
Hard cheese translated?
1. Certain long-keeping cheeses and Pecorino Romano,
Kefalotyri and Kasseri cheeses are produced at certain
seasons and by large numbers of small producers.
Those cheeses are consumed at quite different times of
the year from when they are produced. Aid should
therefore be granted for storage of those cheeses
between the time they are produced and the time they
are consumed.
2. The bulk of certain long-keeping cheeses and Pecorino
Romano, Kefalotyri and Kasseri cheeses is produced in
summer and by large numbers of small producers.
Those cheeses are largely consumed in winter. Aid
should therefore be granted for their storage during the
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intervening period.
Some responses
Lawyer linguists
Early involvement, training, working together
Joint Practical Guide
Commission: Drafters Assistance Package
EP: online drafting assistance
Council: quality advisers
Commission Clear Writing Campaign
Linguists: Editing Service, guidance on
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writing in English
EU Ombudsman
I believe that the right to good administration
includes the right to clear and effective
communication by government to EU
citizens. ...
The key task now is to ensure that, to the
greatest extent possible, EuroEnglish is
not allowed to drift too far away from
standard English so that the scope for
confusion and lack of clarity in the use of
EuroEnglish is minimised.
(London, 15.5.2014)
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CAN THE EU
WRITE CLEARLY?
IALS, 2014
©William Robinson
18
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