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The Recruitment of Maltese Translators at the EU - Part 1

When Malta joined the EU in 2004, the institutions of the European Union were not able to recruit enough Maltese translators to cover the demand. The Maltese sitting for the so-called concours simply weren't good enough. Putting the discussion about the need of translating all documents into Maltese aside, the Maltese Government secured a derogation, and not all documents needed to be translated between 2004 and 2007.

However, all existing EU legislation had to be somehow, eventually, translated into Maltese, and this led to the establishment of translation agencies in Malta. Additionally, every dimwit who wanted to receive some good cash was given the opportunity to move abroad (Luxembourg and Brussels) to help with the high workload. These individuals would be given a temporary contract, and would continue to be employed by the EU even they failed the EPSO competition.

For many years this was the common practice at the Maltese-language units of the institutions (e.g. European Commission, European Parliament and Council). I don't know if you ever stumbled upon any of the initial translations of the many regulations or directives into Maltese, but you would be excused to think that they were written by a drunk lawyer before heading to bed. The quality was bad, very bad.

Eventually some Maltese translators started passing the open competitions and the standard of translations increased. However there were still not enough successful candidates to fill vacant positions with so-called permanent officials. Therefore the institutions would still employ temporary translators to fill the gaps. Temporary staff is recruited using a different procedure than the one applicable to permanent translators. While those applying to become a temporary agent must also sit for a test, this test is much easier in nature.

Last year, in 2017, a competition was concluded for Maltese-language translators (see) and another for Maltese-language linguistic assistants (see).

We decided to get in touch with the institutions and see how recruitment was progressing. Unfortunately we were met with unhelpful high-ranking officials working at the European Commission and the European Parliament. In Part 2 we'll have a look at our questions and how they were answered.

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