Since the end of April, all staff at DGT are experiencing very high pressure due to an unprecedented workload. The reason is a combination of translation requests concerning the Multiannual budget 2021-2027, drafting of last minute EU legislation and European Semester as well as other regular translation requests. This situation is neither new nor unforeseeable, but despite all preparations it became more problematic than expected.

In addition to the increased workload, DGT has lost up to 25% of its staff since 2012 and 50% since 2004 and this is not yet the end. As a result, DGT cannot cope with such a high demand for translations. Moreover, increased outsourcing does not help: translation companies are saturated; more and more documents that would be outsourced are being turned down and returned to sender every day. Faced with very short delivery deadlines, translation units are advised to present anything in the target language, no matter what the quality.

With quality standards long gone down the drain, translators in DGT are feeling increasingly frustrated with having to deliver suboptimal results that do not reflect their level of professional commitment proven over the years.

A lesson to be learned here is clear: “doing more with less” has some serious limitations and some serious reflection is now urgent. But, instead of that, DGT is threatened with downgrading to an Office. According to a flash from the Directors meeting 14 May 2018, the Corporate Management Board asked DGT to look into long term options [of cost reduction] including creating an Office for translation etc. This is to be discussed in the next Corporate Management Board this month.

Degrading DGT to an Office only would aggravate the situation as it would be much more difficult to manage current and even more complex future translation processes, assuring high quality translation in all 24 languages, in a more unstable environment. The Administration should take into account not only the financial cost of translation (currently the only preoccupation of DG HR) but also the cost of diversity, the cost of legal certainty, the cost of EU law implementation and, ultimately, the cost of democracy. Investing in the DGT and promoting a multilingual EU is not at all a waste of money, it is just wise and prudent management.

As a result of all these pressures and uncertainties, the stress for DGT staff is on the increase.

R&D supports the demands of translators to stop the DGT staff cuts and stop any steps concerning the degrading of the status of DGT. Any decisions on the further DGT reorganisation should be taken only by consulting with staff representatives via social dialogue. This should begin as soon as possible. R&D will take further action after discussions with other trade unions.