In March 2020, the European Parliament reacted very fast to the challenges to ensuring the continuity of multilingual parliamentary meetings brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. With social distancing rules and travel restrictions preventing Members of Parliament from attending meetings in person and our interpreters from sharing booths in teams as usual, we had to find solutions that could enable parliamentary work to continue despite the obstacles. Thanks to the efforts of all the people involved – our remote participation teams, conference technicians, interpreters, meeting planning and interpreter programming units and our clients, we were able to restore multilingual meetings quickly. It has required a lot of hard work, many quick adaptations to continuously evolving circumstances and a lot of
One of the big challenges of making remote meetings work is how to guarantee the best audio and video quality for participants to be able to get their message across effectively. To improve the meeting experience for all meeting participants, we set up a dedicated Multilingual Meetings Service almost to the day a year ago, to cater for new types of meetings that were emerging in the Covid crises. We now have a team of colleagues helping meeting participants connect to meetings, advising them on the best solutions for their audio settings (the best type of microphone, advice on
how best to connect) and who are there for the whole meeting for participants to rely on.
This work goes hand-in-hand with the work we do together with our interpreters. To allow for the best interpreters in the world to continue providing the quality of service our clients are used to, we need to continuously work with them on improving the multilingual participation tool. They know best how it is to work with the tool in the booth, in various types of meetings and their input has been invaluable in keeping meetings multilingual. This work continues as a new meeting reality is emerging while we slowly move out of the crisis.
Philip Tulkens is Acting Director for Conference Organisation, DG LINC, European Parliament.