The EU Expert Group on Multilingualism and Translation published its report on the role of translators for the cultural and creative sectors and proposed recommendations to improve the translators’ working conditions and professional developments. The reports also include recommendations on how public institutions can stimulate the translation and promotion of European books.
The Work Plan for Culture 2019-2022 states that "in a multilingual environment, translation is key to enabling broader access to European content”.
Based on this, the Council of the European Union mandated a group of EU experts under the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) to assess existing support mechanisms for translation, discuss best practices, and provide concrete recommendations.
The focus of the report is on literary translation, but the expert group gives also key recommendations for the audiovisual and theatre translation sectors.
Increasing the circulation and diversity of books in Europe
If the EU’s motto ‘united in diversity’ is to have any real meaning, the people promoting our unity through their work should receive the recognition and support they need to be able to do their work and stay in the profession.
This extract from the report summarises one of the key issues tackled within: translators are indispensable for the circulation of cultural works in Europe, but the profession has become unattractive, due in particular to poor remuneration and working conditions.
In addition, the market for translated works is a niche market with a fragile economy, particularly for lesser-used languages; publishers find it difficult to pay what translators would consider appropriate rates enabling them to make a living from their profession.
Main recommendations of the report
Reinforce the translator profession
The report recommends making the translation profession more attractive by providing more training opportunities for translators, reinforcing translators’ (professional) associations and improving remuneration and working conditions through the opportunities offered by the new Digital Single Market Directive.
As suggested by the title of the report translators need also more visibility and recognition and action needs to be taken to promote greater diversity and inclusion within the sector.
More funding and cooperation for the translation and promotion of European books
The report advocates for more public funding for translation projects so publishers can take on a higher number of translation projects and can fairly remunerate the translators working on them.
Public support systems should have a holistic approach and cover the entire value chain, from authors to booksellers.
Reading promotion actions should also have a strong European dimension and promote openness to diversity and books from abroad.
Finally, the report encourages national public institutions to engage in more cooperation at a European level, for instance through multi-country book promotion activities and a harmonized approach to data collection.