Translation Quality, Quality Management and Agency: Principles and Practice in the European Union Institutions

Joanna Drugan, Ingemar Strandvik, Erkka Vuorinen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Translation quality and translation quality management are key concerns for the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation (DGT), and the European Union institutions more broadly. Translated texts are often legally binding, politically sensitive, confidential or important for the image of the institutions. For legislative texts, an important principle of EU law is that there is no ‘original’: all language versions are equivalent and equally authentic. Consistency in translation strategies and in the approach to quality is therefore critical.

In this contribution, we first outline the context in which translation takes place in the EU institutions, focusing on challenges for quality. We illustrate how translation quality is managed in practice, identifying two guiding principles: consistency of approach, and consistency of quality. We explain how DGT’s quality management policy defines quality and how it should be managed, then demonstrate why achieving ‘equivalent’ quality across all language versions, translators, and institutions is hard. We examine how translated texts are dealt with in the attempt to achieve this goal. Last, we widen the focus to consider what these challenges and the EU approach mean for translators and their status and agency. Issues of translation quality are also issues of ethics, power relations and professional values.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTranslation Quality Assessment
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Principles to Practice
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9783319912417
ISBN (Print)9783319912400
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2018

Publication series

NameMachine Translation: Technologies and Applications
ISSN (Print)2522-8021
ISSN (Electronic)2522-803X


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