In the past few weeks I have been working on a report which deals with the cost of interpretation. It is a sensitive issue.

In the report I do not question the need for interpretation. Every MEP should have the right to speak his or her mother tongue.

I also stress that it is important to respect multilingualism. I do not want to limit working languages.

The aim of the report is to raise cost-awareness, which in turn should make all of us think about when and how interpretation is provided.

Together with Commissioner Siim Kallas, responsible for CoCoBu issues.

Here are some hard facts about the costs of interpretation:

1. In 2003 the total cost of interpretation in EU was 163 million euros. The total cost of interpretation in the Parliament is 57 million euros.

2. When we combine ”implicit stand by-duty” (18 million euros) and services ordered but not used (4 million euros) we end up with a total of 22 million. This is over 13% of the whole interpretation costs.

3. The average cost of an interpretation day was 1476 euros in the Parliament and 1046 euros in the Commission. The discrepancy is due to the fact that interpreters from the European Parliament have to go to Strasbourg once a month.

4. One day meeting with 20/20 interpretation costs 118 000 euros, while a 3/3 regime costs 8900 euros per day.

All in all these figures sound exorbitant, but they should be put into perspective.

The interpretation costs of the whole Union are approximately 0,1 percent of the total annual budget. Not a bad price to pay for linguistic diversity.