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Press Release

Loans instead of true aid? EU Institutions leave freelance interpreters behind

27 May 2020

The interpreting services of two EU Institutions are offering “deferred contracts” - essentially a loan - to their freelance interpreters to compensate for loss of income during the pandemic one month after the last meeting with the AIIC EU Negotiating Delegation.

The proposal was made yesterday afternoon by the services one month after the last meeting with the AIIC EU Negotiating Delegation. The Institutions consider this first offer to be their final one and announced the measure directly to ACIs (freelance interpreters) just after the meeting with interpreters’ representatives.

Two out of three interpreting services of the European Institutions (DG SCIC and DG LINC) have proposed to offer ACIs (freelance interpreters) who have regularly worked for the Institutions 3 or 4 “deferred contracts”. This is a new type of contract, which will be offered as a package by the institutions’ interpreting services. ACIs will receive a one-off payment for these contracts shortly after accepting the package, and will have to work off the days some time before the 31 of December 2020.

This proposal reaches the negotiating table after more than two months of conflict with the EU Institutions. The conflict started because of a unilateral decision coordinated by the institutions to carry out weekly cancellations of daily contracts previously offered as part of the normal long-term recruitment exercise, Contracts from the last week of May/first week of June are being cancelled on a rolling basis. This measure was applied without prior consultation of interpreters’ representatives.

These cancelled contracts were the only source of income some interpreters could count on for May, June and July. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe and the slowdown in activity at the Institutions, the demand for interpretation has plummeted. Medium- and short-term contracts have ceased, leaving some interpreters without income since mid March.

To make matters worse, most ACIs are not eligible for national income support measures in their country of residence because of their contractual relations with the Institutions. They pay EU community tax on their daily remuneration and this does not provide them with social security coverage.

The Institutions have claimed that they have no legal basis to offer freelance interpreters genuine solidarity. At the same time, they have repeatedly made statements like “solidarity is at the very heart of Europe.” or “no one will be left behind”). If they are really sincere about this, the Negotiating Delegation think the Institutions should go further than a loan of 1300 euros to cover 3-6 months without work and offer proper help during such an unprecedented crisis. It has also to be noted that the idea of the deferred contracts was already rejected by the Negotiating Delegation in the last meeting on April 24th.

AIIC (Association of Conference Interpreters) is the only professional association of conference interpreters worldwide. AIIC is the only interlocutor representing ACIs in social dialogue with the Institutions through its Negotiating Delegation for the EU sector.

To know more: See attached Info Kit. Visit www.aiic.net