Home » Articole » EN » Business » Translation » European Union Guides » English Style Guide » English Translation Style Guide for EU – MEMBER STATES

English Translation Style Guide for EU – MEMBER STATES

English Translation Style Guide for EU

When translating a document that lists the Member States in alphabetical order, rearrange the list into English alphabetical order.

If the Member States are listed in protocol order, do not change the order.

The list of Member States in protocol order is as follows:

  • Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden, United Kingdom

In English, the long forms of country names (full names) should not be used in any but the most formal contexts (unless there is no accepted short form). Even in international treaties, they should be used sparingly, e.g. in the title.


Titles. For la Représentation permanente du Danemark etc. write the Danish Permanent Representation. Use Permanent Representative only for the person holding that office.

The Permanent Representatives Committee is commonly known under its French acronym Coreper. In documents intended for the general public, however, spell out what the acronym means when using it for the first time.
Coreper has been split into Coreper 2 (the Permanent Representatives themselves) and Coreper 1 (deputies) to speed up its work; these designations are only likely to arise in internal Commission papers and may be used without explanation in English translations of them.


Use the country’s own names for its parliamentary institutions only if you are sure your readers will be familiar with them. Otherwise, write the … Parliament, inserting the country adjective. In the case of bicameral systems, write the lower/upper house of the … Parliament if it needs to be specified. However, if a particular parliament is referred to repeatedly, the non-English name may be used, provided it is explained the first time it is introduced. For example, write the Bundestag (the lower house of the German Parliament) and thereafter the Bundestag in a text where the term occurs many times.

Ireland. Note that the qualifier ‘Éireann’ is not needed when referring to the Dáil or the Seanad.

Parliamentarians. Write Member of the … Parliament, specifying which house if necessary. MP should be used only if the context supports the meaning. Avoid national abbreviations of such titles (e.g. MdB in Germany).

Political parties. Where possible and meaningful, always translate the names of political parties, as this may be important to the reader, but add the national abbreviation in brackets and use this in the rest of the document:

  • The German Social Democratic Party (SPD) had serious reservations on this issue. The SPD had in the past …


Use the suggested translations in the Country Compendium. If necessary, insert the original-language form in brackets following the first mention.


For countries that provide reliable translations of their legislation into English (e.g. on the Finlex website in Finland), you should use the terms they use. To ensure consistency at source-language level, you should also consult the Country Compendium for agreed terms and apply the advice given below.

In national legislation, if a provision is numbered Article 1 bis (ter, quater, etc.), do not change it to Article 1a (b, c, etc.) unless there is an official English translation that does so, as this would only cause confusion for anyone attempting to find the original. The English versions of many international agreements, conventions, etc. also use this style of numbering.

Translating the titles of legislation. In common law systems (such as those of England and Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland, the United States, Australia and India), titles of legislative acts customarily appear in a form which is concise, avoids the use of relative clauses, contains few prepositions, and — with the exception of brackets — is largely devoid of punctuation.


  • Police (Complaints and Conduct) Act 2012
  • The European Parliamentary Elections (Returning Officers’ and Local Returning Officers’ Charges) (Great Britain and Gibraltar) Order 2014
  • Contract Cleaning Joint Labour Committee Establishment (Amendment) Order 2014

Titles of legislative acts in other systems (those of most EU Member States) tend to be explicit and descriptive and may contain several relative clauses. Their structure is in some cases governed by rules prescribing the use of specific phrases, prepositions, punctuation, etc.


  • Loi modifiant la loi relative à la protection des animaux
  • Rozporządzenie Ministra Finansów z dnia 24 czerwca 2011 r. zmieniające rozporządzenie w sprawie kryteriów i warunków technicznych, którym muszą odpowiadać kasy rejestrujące oraz warunków ich stosowania

These descriptive titles can often be neatly translated into English by inverting the word order so that they appear in the more concise form customary in common law countries.

Examples (from French, but equally applicable to many languages):

  • Loi concernant les chèques, Cheques Act
  • Loi no. 66-537 du 24 juillet 1966 sur les sociétés commerciales, Commercial Business Associations Act No. 66-537 of 24 July 1966
  • Loi abrogeant l’article 77 du Code civil, Civil Code (Article 77) Repeal Act
  • Loi modifiant la loi relative à la protection des animaux, Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act

Alternatively, and in particular if this procedure becomes unmanageable or if you feel the reader might be confused, it may be preferable to follow the structure of the original language:


  • Loi abrogeant l’article 77 du Code civil, Act repealing Article 77 of the Civil Code

To avoid a top-heavy or bottom-heavy title it may sometimes be possible to combine these styles, as in the title of this piece of US legislation: 1997 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Recovery from Natural Disasters, and for Overseas Peacekeeping Efforts, Including Those in Bosnia.

To sum up, the options for Loi d’orientation et de programmation relatif à la politique de développement et de solidarité internationale include:

  • the concise common-law format: Development and International Solidarity Policy (Guidance and Planning) Act;
  • the descriptive format: Act governing guidance and planning for policy on development and international solidarity;
  • a mixed format (here with initial capitalisation to emphasise that it is a title): Guidance and Planning Act for Development and International Solidarity Policy.

When deciding which style to adopt you should always bear in mind the need for consistency, clarity and readability.

Act vs law. Either is acceptable in translations, provided you are consistent.

Note that act is a more natural translation for the title of a law, e.g. la loi sur les sociétés = the Companies Act, while law is better in a description, e.g. la loi sur les sociétés = the French law governing companies.

Bill vs draft act/law. Prefer ‘draft act/law’.

Law gazettes, official gazettes and official journals. For general references to such publications, use these three terms in accordance with the ‘Note to readers’ in Access to legislation in Europe — Guide to the legal gazettes and other official information sources in the European Union and the European Free Trade Association (substituting law gazette for legal gazette). For references to specific national publications, follow the advice given in the Country Compendium (if any), or the general advice from here. Where an English translation is used in the country itself, it should be preferred to the word-for-word translation used in the above-mentioned guide.

© European Union

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.