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Epso: just English, French and German please

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Controversy brews because competition announcements for the European Personnel Selection Office were published in only three languages. Officials blow the whistle on the apparently chaotic management of translations

One hundred and fifty permanent European official positions including IT, communication and media administrators paid 4,012 euros net per month. Such rarities in today’s mass precariousness are the craved reward of around twelve thousand hopefuls short-listed by the European Personnel Selection Office (Epso). The code name for the announcement published on 28th February 2007 was EPSO/AD/94/07, known as 'AD5' amongst friends.

Italian snubbed

The problem was that the official in charge of recruitment only published the announcement in English, French and German, leaving out the other 20 official European languages. It clearly violated the European treaty whereby announcements should be made in all languages recognised by Brussels, including Italian, which is still snubbed by the European Commission.

To general astonishment, registration terminals re-opened to accept late registrations for the competition that will take place between 28 March and 18 July. The reason cited was 'administrative omission.' The announcement was published in the remaining 20 languages, not 19 as Epso had announced in a slip of the tongue, which showed the officials' own lack of knowledge of European multilingualism.

European Deputy Alfredo Antoniozzi, known custodian of the Italian language, unleashed the row. When questioned by the European Commission (which governs Epso) on 14 May, the representative of right wing party Forza Italia let loose. 'Behind the announcement published in only three languages, there was a desire to give rise to a new procedure, which was only aggravated by the omission of publishing, of all things, an announcement for a public competition in Italian.' The European parliament rips the Commission to shreds even further with Socialist María Isabel Salinas García. 'Considering that errors came to light in the previous EPSO/AD/25/05 competition for administrators, doesn’t the Commission believe that it should look into the way Epso works?'

'Chaotic management of translations'

E.C., a weakened leader of the European Commission, reveals that 'delays are due to chaotic administration and bad management of translations. The problem has certainly not improved over recent years with the entry of twelve new countries in the European Union,' countries which brought as many new languages with them, including Maltese and Slovenian. In 2007, there was even talk of adding Gaelic to the list, much to the delight of Celtic culture lovers.

The official believes that there is strong contradiction in that, although the EU treaty clearly states the equality of languages, in truth only French and English are ever really used for everyday communication. 'I believe that, even when there is the opportunity of communicating in their own language, most will still choose to communicate in English.'

Although the debate over multilingualism (which cost 511 million euros in 2005) within institutions is rife, the Epso website remains accessible only in English, French and German. The AD5 competition will go ahead, with results ready for July 2008.

Homepage photo (gk_monga/ Flickr)

Translated from Epso sotto accusa: la Babele dei concorsi Ue