EU translation requirements
Current EU law requires - albeit based on different legal regulations - both the Community institutions and the machine manufacturers to produce translations in the languages of the Member States.
Regulation No. 1 of the Council of the European Economic Community already determined the languages to be used in 1958. It stipulates the official and working languages of the institutions of the Community in which all regulations and other documents of general application must be written and published.
Directive 89/392/EEC, commonly known as the »Machinery Directive«, which came into force on 1 January 1993 and has been fully applicable since 1 January 1995, which was amended by Directives 91/368/EEC, 93/44/EEC and 93/68/EEC of the Council and codified in Directive 98/37/EEC with all its modifications, is similarly binding, but for the manufacturers of machinery, mechanical equipment and associated components. It harmonises the laws, regulations or administrative provisions of the Member States relating to machinery and its scope of application covers the European mechanical engineering industry with a value of approx. 300 billion euros in 1998. In Article 1.7.4. b the Directive requires the manufacturer or his authorised representative to supply the instructions in one of the Community languages along with a translation of the original instructions in the language(s) of the country of use. By way of derogation, maintenance instructions that are exclusively intended for specialised personnel do not necessarily have to be supplied in the language(s) of the country of use but can be supplied in a Community language understood by the specialised personnel (see »Directive 98/37/EC«, Annex 9).
Attention should also be paid to the aspect of product liability which is subject to similar conditions to most countries: All products must offer an expected level of safety, that is, the language used must provide understandable information on the intended purpose of the product, warn of potential hazards associated with using the product and explain how to use the product in an intelligible way.
Translations therefore are not just necessary for the movement of goods, but rather they are mandatory within Europe with sanctions threatened for non-compliance. Translation is obligatory for all companies wanting to export to Europe!
EU documentation requirements
The marketing and commissioning of certain technical products within the EU requires compliance with a number of EU directives. The most well known include the »Machinery Directive« (98/37/EC, consolidated versions 89/392/EEC, 91/368/EEC, 93/44/EEC, 93/68/EEC), the »Low Voltage Directive« (73/23/EEC, amended version 93/68/EEC) and the »Directive for Electromagnetic Compatibility« (89/336/EEC, amended versions 91/263/EEC, 92/31/EEC, 93/68/EEC).
The CE mark requires compliance with the EU directives applicable to the respective product. A declaration of conformity issued by the authorised representative of the manufacturer serves to certify compliance with EU directives. The technical documentation documents the proper implementation of the compliance procedure and must be available when placing a product on the market within the Community.
A distinction is made between two types of documentation depending on the user group:
1. Documentation for internal use.
» all test protocols created
» product and process descriptions
» calculations made, test results and
» analysis of potential sources of hazards
The internal documentation remains with the manufacturer.
2. Documentation for external use.
» operating instructions
» maintenance instructions
» technical drawings and plans
» spare and wear parts lists
» EC Declaration of Conformity
The external documentation is sent to the customer. The operating instructions must be available in a Community language and in one of the official languages of the destination country. The maintenance instructions must be available in a Community language understood by the personnel.
Danish, German, Finnish, French, Greek, English, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Norwegian.
These languages are an essential feature of national and personal identity for the citizens of the Member States.
The official languages of the EU include all those mentioned above except for Norwegian. These 11 or 12 languages were increased to include 9 new languages in 2004 (those of the new EU accession countries):
Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Slovak, Slovenian, Czech and Hungarian.
As a result, both the Community institutions and the producers resident in the Member States have experienced a significant increase in the costs and work associated with language and translation.