International Organisations and Institutions – The European Union

Often, texts come across a translator’s desk full of references to international organisations and institutions which are usually referred to by their official name or by their known abbreviation.

At first glance, it may seem that translating these terms is not that important. However, due to the extensive and frequent use of names and acronyms in English, the reality is that all international organisations have an official name in each of the most spoken European languages. Since, as translators, the language services we provide are driven by professionalism and thoroughness, it is not only convenient but also necessary, that we translate these references (including their acronyms) into the target language whenever possible, especially when translating legal texts.

As a way of offering a helping hand to our fellow translators, lawyers, and students, we are giving open access to an extensive multilingual glossary. In it are the translations of the main international organisations and institutions and their official acronyms. You can ensure that, by having this glossary in your toolbox, you’ll never miss a beat with your future legal translations.

We hope you find it useful.

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In 1993, with the enactment of the Maastricht Treaty, the European Union was formed. Under its umbrella saw the union of three European Communities (ECSC, EEC, and TEAEC*); expanding and strengthening them with new policies and cooperation strategies. The alliance of European states, which in its beginnings was purely economically driven, later took form as a union characterised by politics, cooperation, and security. It differentiated from other organisations as Member States gave over part of their sovereignty in favour of the EU. This sovereignty holds its own independent set of defined abilities and is established as part of a supranational system that is binding to all Member States.

Following the upcoming departure of the United Kingdom in January 2021, the EU is now comprised of 27 Member States**. All States share the same institutional framework at a supranational level (Art. 13 TEU) with the aim of achieving the EU’s own common values and objectives. In addition to its own identity, this institutional framework has a decisive influence on the internal legal systems, and therefore also on the acts and legislation of the Member States, which is why we quite often find references to European institutions and organisations in our legal translations.

One of the founding principles of the EU is the necessity for multilingualism; communication with citizens in their own language and with respect for minority languages. The Directorate-General for Translation (DGT) is responsible for translating European texts into the 24 languages considered to be official in the EU, resulting in the official translation of many acts and legal instruments into the different languages.

As translators, we must be aware of these official versions and consistently adapt any references in our text to be in line with the European institutional framework in the target language, paying particular attention also to acronyms and their correct translation. Doing this should not be done as a finishing touch to our translations, but rather should be considered as the minimum level of diligence to be taken into account when carrying out our work.


You can download our free glossary here.


*European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), European Economic Community (EEC), European Atomic Energy Community (TEAEC).


**The Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.



  • Dirección General de Comunicación (Comisión Europea), Borchardt, Klaus-Dieter, “El ABC del Derecho de la Unión Europea”, ISBN: 978-92-79-63653-0. Edición en español. Oficina de Publicaciones de la UE

Post translated by Christian Copeland

About María Jesús Fernández Villar

Bachelor's degree in Translation and Interpreting. Degree in Law. Sworn Translator ES-FR No. 8381. Translator and proofreader in the French and English to Spanish combinations.

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