No Maltese interpreters qualify
for EU posts, 98 translators still needed by Brussels
By David Lindsay
Despite the renowned Maltese flair for languages, Malta is still coming
up empty handed when it comes to finding interpreters to work within
European Union institutions come 1 May.
As matters currently stand and with just over three months to go until
Malta accedes to the EU, only 37 Maltese translators are to sit for
their second pre-selection test and the few Maltese who actually applied
for posts as interpreters have all failed their second tests.
Contacted on Friday, an EU spokesperson confirmed with The Malta Financial
and Business Times that the EU has had little success in attracting
Maltese nationals to work as translators and interpreters. In fact,
Maltese turnout for pre-selection tests has been surprisingly poor,
given the comparatively high salaries on offer from Brussels.
The spokesperson told this newspaper that only 90 Maltese had applied
for the 135 posts for translators that need to be filled by each of
the new EU member states. The poor turnout was then amplified by the
fact that out of these 90, only 40 showed up for the pre-selection tests.
Now the 37 prospective translators who made it through the first round
of testing are awaiting the results of their second round of testing.
Even if each of these 37 do, indeed, eventually qualify as fully-fledged
EU translators, Malta will still fall 98 translators short of the complement
required for the estimated 1.3 million pages of text to be translated
each year. By 2006, this number is expected to grow to 2.4 million.
Even less success, in fact none at all, had been registered in securing
the higher-skilled interpreters. The EU spokesperson told this newspaper
that out of the mere 16 Maltese candidates, only four had made it through
to the second round of testing. All four hopeful interpreters then failed
this second round of testing, effectively meaning that Maltese officials
heading for Brussels will have little choice other than simply resorting
to speaking English, or another interpretable European language, at
These revelations follow Alternattiva Demokratikas condemnation
of the lack of inertia on the part of the Maltese government, which,
it said, had led to a severe lack of qualified Maltese interpreters
for EU structures. AD also warned of a serious risk that the Maltese
language would be completely absent from the European Parliament as
from May. And with no interpreters qualifying as interpreters, the forecast
has now become reality.
Prof. Cassola called on the government to request financial assistance
from the EU for the implementation of a crash course in
interpreting in order to correct the state of affairs.
To date, this call has not been heeded.