EU Language (Technology) Policies
At a glance:
Currently (since 1 July 2016), Language Technologies are part of a new Unit G3 "Learning, Multilingualism & Accessibility" that describes itself: "The mission of the unit is to make the Digital Single Market more accessible, secure and inclusive. To this end, the unit supports policy, research, innovation and deployment of learning technologies and key enabling digital language technologies and services to allow all European consumers and businesses to fully benefit from the Digital Single Market." (emphasis added). For more information, see "Who we are - DG CONNECT".
On 13 December 2016, the Unit held a LT Round Table in Luxembourg for a brain storming exercise with LT stakeholders. All interventions of the speakers can be found at: LT Round Table.
A bit of history:
Human Language Technologies (HLT) include natural language processing, speech technology, machine translation, information extraction, data analytics etc.
The European Commission has supported HLT for some 40 years now. There was a lot of sustained effort throughout 1980-1990 which resulted in some pioneering Machine Translation and Translation Memory technologies. The EU support for HLT is now being revived due to renewed political commitment following the ambition to create a Digital Single Market. More and more commercial transactions are being done online and there are more consumers using the Web that do not speak English than those who do. Recent e-commerce statistics indicate that two out of three EU customers buy only in their own language. This suggests that language is a significant barrier to a truly Europe-wide digital single market. Of course, language barriers do not only impact on e-commerce activities, but also on access to virtually all online content and services.
At European Commission level, DG CNECT is a main driver, together with DG Translation (DGT) that is a pioneer in realising the MT@EC tool. Based on this, the CEF building block on automated tranlsation (AT) will help European and national public administrations information exchange across language barriers. The main purpose of CEF.AT is to make all Digital Service Infrastructures (DSIs) multilingual.
At another level, DG EAC (Education and Culture) was and is strongly involved in multilingualism in the ambit of culture as well as education and training.