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European Union to become Monolingual

Release Date | 2015-05-19

The decision in May 2015 by the European Court of Justice, ruling against Spain’s complaint about the discriminatory nature of the unified patent process, is indicative of the slow but sure trend of the EU to become monolingual.

European Union to become Monolingual

Contact info

Organization T4J
Office tel no.+33 (0)2 35 59 97 70
Fax+33 (0)2 35 59 97 75
City Bihorel (France)
The decision in May 2015 by the European Court of Justice (1), ruling against Spain’s complaint about the discriminatory nature of the unified patent process, is indicative of the slow but sure trend of the EU to become monolingual.

Spain rightly claimed that the new patent protection system is discriminatory, since patents must be filed in English, French or German in order to be applicable – excluding EU citizens who do not speak any of those languages. Their claim was rejected on 6 May.

The process is not new. The European Patent Convention (EPC) was signed in Munich on 5 October 1973 and entered into force on 7 October 1977. Even then, the official languages were English, French and German.

The reason for the recent change in the patent process, supported by Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Hungary, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK (but none of the other EU member states) is the cost and time required to translate patents.

It does not take into account the cost and time imposed upon EU citizens who do not speak English, French or German to translate their patent applications into one of those languages.

According to the latest translation figures (2012) for the European Commission (2), the highest percentage of pages translated was into English – 14.92%, followed by French (8.25%) and German (6.45%). Only 0.38% (6,680 pages) were translated into other European languages.

European Commission translations cost 330 million euro per year, or a little more than 1 euro per citizen. The European Commission justifies the cost by saying that “As a democratic organisation, the EU has to communicate with its citizens in their own language”. It would seem that the real justification is not the interest of the people, but the interest rate at the bank.

In 2000, the EC informed representative bodies such as the Euro Info Centres that its documents would be issued in English only. The recent decision by the EU Court of Justice is in line with that trend. The capital of Europe is neither Strasbourg nor Brussels; it is the City in London.

(1)curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=164093&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=req&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=114406
(2) one-europe.info/translation-in-the-european-union-facts-and-figures

Translated by: Malcolm Duff
Email: malcolm.duff@htt.fr
Website: www.translatorsforjournalists.org

The exclusive Translation Manager for Kontax in France, HTT offers a full range of services and language solutions for its customers, international institutions and multinational corporations.




Contact

Organization T4J
Last name Duff
First name Malcolm
Role CEO
Office tel no. 02 35 59 97 70
URL http://www.translatorsforjournalists.org


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