The Confederation has documents translated in Italy


PoliticsThe Confederation has documents translated in Italy

The Svizzera spoke Italian. And yet: the Confederation’s linguistic services lack the capacity to translate the numerous documents into Italian.

Departments sometimes use foreign translators.

Departments sometimes use foreign translators.


Since 2007, the Language Act has obliged federal departments and the Federal Chancellery to provide information in all national languages, writes the “SonntagsBlick”. To this end, the Federal Administration employs translators. However, the language services are regularly at the limit of their capacity and the Federal Chancellery continues to place orders with external service providers, which are not always located in Switzerland.

At the request of the Federal Department of Finance (FDF), the Federal Chancellery has concluded two translation contracts with companies in Rome and Modena (I). The FDF has thus secured translation services for the next three years, at a cost of between 750,000 and 1.2 million Swiss francs.

The example of the FDF is not a special case, as confirmed by the Federal Chancellery. In case of work overload, urgency and “if all internal possibilities have been exhausted”, individual translation orders are given to third parties. “According to the law, no distinction can be made between translators in Switzerland and translators abroad when awarding contracts,” writes the Chancellery
federal. In fact, the Confederation had 43,245 pages translated abroad between the years 2019 and 2021 alone. Cost: 4.2 million Swiss francs.

A situation that national councilor Matthias Aebischer (PS/BE) does not like. “Quatrilingualism is a flagship product of our country and helps to shape our identity,” says the Bernese, who therefore hopes that the texts of the Confederation will be translated in Switzerland. He intends to address the issue of awarding contracts to the National Council in the near future.


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