Today we hear about the zillions we're spending on interpretation services for all those politicos and bureaucrats. In 2003, the bill reportedly stood at £109m, or 1% of the EU budget. But now, post the Big Bang EU enlargement, it's soared.
We don't know the actual cost because of course EU accounts only appear after a delay of several years. And as we know, they can never be signed off as such because of all those errors and the massive fraud (just as a reminder, Tesco, along with all other successful operations in the real world, publishes its fully audited results just two months after its year-end).
But we do know that "interpretation for a full-day meeting in the parliament, which cost £25,000 before enlargement, now costs £59,000. Three interpreters are needed for each booth, which means the parliament cannot function unless 60 interpreters are on duty every day." That's a grand per interpretor per day. And it implies the post-enlargement cost of interpretation is running at around £250m pa. Or a quarter of a billion!
Even more extraordinary, that's not the end of it. Not only must all meetings be interpreted into 20 "working languages" (previously 11), but all documents must be translated. And adding that lot in brings the total to nearly half a billion quid a year.
20 languages- including Maltese for which the EU apparently haven't been able to find any interpretors.
I can't recall how many tongues were involved in that famous tower, but even the hopeless dysfunctional UN manages to blunder along with just six.
Why don't we standardise on one widely used international language? Like English, say.