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Translating EU: EUR-Lex, IATE, EU TMs, Style Guides

Translating EU: EUR-Lex, IATE, EU TMs, Style Guides


EU and EU-related texts might not be the bulk of the work at STP, but there are some things that are useful, and sometimes essential, to know for when they actually do land on our desks.

This page contains some information on how to find EU directives and other legislative acts as well as terminology. It also gives an introduction to the EU’s interinstitutional style guide and provides some tips and useful links. One section describes our "EU TMs". Finally, there is also brief guidance on translating directives into Norwegian, a non-EU language.

How to search for EU legislation (EUR-Lex)

When translating EU-related documents, it is important to use the correct names and numbers of the EU legislative acts (e.g. decisions, regulations and directives). Also, legislation is translated into all official EU languages, including Danish, Finnish and Swedish, so the translator needs to use the existing official translation in their language and not make up their own translation when quoting from or referring to these acts. Always double-check the name and number of a legislative act before using it in the translation.

The main resource for finding this information is EUR-Lex. It is a service that gives free access to EU law and other public documents. Go to http://eur-lex.europa.eu/ and select the required language (you can change language later at any time).

Then scroll down to Find results by on the main page. If you know the document number and year that you are looking for (e.g. Directive 2002/96/EC), enter them in the appropriate fields. You do not need both the number and the year, but if you enter only one search term, the list of results will be very long.

You can also select the type of documents you are looking for in the search box (All, Regulation, EU court case, Directive, COM and JOIN documents, Decision or SEC or SWD documents). If you know the CELEX number of the document, you can enter this in the second tab instead.

Click the name of the document in the search results. On the next page, you can select the languages you wish to see side by side (up to three) under Multilingual display:

The following screenshot shows Directive 2002/96/EC in English, Finnish and Swedish. (This happens to be the so-called WEEE directive, which is often referred to in some texts that we translate, such as consumer electronics manuals.)

The method described above is the easiest way to search for legislation with EUR-Lex. However, there is also an advanced search option if you do not know the year or the number of the document you are looking for. There is a link to the advanced search on the home page:

On the next page, you can choose a collection you want to search (e.g. international agreements or EU case law) if you wish. You can use the text search (you can use OR and NOT if you want to search for several phrases or if you want to exclude phrases from the results). There are also other options: you can specify the author (e.g. the European Council), date (either a specific date or a range) or the issue of the Official Journal.

TIP! Start with a simpler search and add more search terms if it looks like you are getting too many results!

TIP! '2002/96' in Directive 2002/96/EC means that this is directive number 96 from the year 2002. Before 1999, only two numbers were used to indicate the year. For example, Directive 98/37/EC is from 1998. See e.g. http://publications.europa.eu/code/en/en-130200.htm for more detailed information on the numbering of legislation.

How to search for terminology (IATE and EUR-Lex)

IATE is the EU's inter-institutional terminology database which contains millions of terms and is continuously being updated. Until 2004, the different institutions had their own databases (the Commission had Eurodicautom, for example), but their information has now been consolidated into IATE.

You can find IATE here: http://iate.europa.eu/ 

Under My search preferences at the top of the page you can load and save the source and target languages that you use the most, so that you don't need to select these every time you use IATE.

The following screenshot shows a search for 'principle of subsidiarity' with Swedish as the target language: