Demand Drivers DG CONNECT ecommerce eTranslation Europe European Commission European Union

Here’s How European SMEs Translate and Localize Their Websites (

Although the European Commission currently offers a free machine translation service to small and medium enterprises in all EU countries, Iceland, and Norway, there is still a very large gap in this market for language service providers (LSPs) to address, according to a recently published EC survey.

Conducted between March and May 2021, the survey drew responses from over a thousand European SMEs. Questionnaires were sent out as part of a “consultation” by eTranslation, the EC’s online machine translation (MT) service, following a similar 2020 study that revealed the preferences of European SMEs around the use of MT in their websites.

“The consultation identified specific market needs that could be addressed by European language service providers complemented by public solutions, such as those based on eTranslation,” the study said.


Results showed that some 45% of European SMEs want to make their websites available in other languages. Among these, 40% want to translate their web content into German; 40% into English; 40%, French; 30%, Spanish; and 7.5% want to make their web pages available in all eTranslation languages (i.e., 24 official EU languages, plus Icelandic and Norwegian).

Among the non-EU languages ranked by eTranslation as being in relatively high demand are Russian (24%), Chinese (17%), Arabic (13.8%), Japanese (10.5%), and Turkish (6.8%).

The researchers qualified, however, that “the availability of other languages must be seen in the context of the country coverage of this consultation. For example, 35% of SMEs indicated having their website in Italian, which correlates with 38% of the replies coming  from Italy.”

According to the study, “English is by far the language most widely used on SMEs’ websites (58%), reflecting its role as the ‘lingua franca’ of Europe.”

The study further noted that, at present, a third of SME respondents publish their website in a single language. Of those websites that are bilingual or multilingual, only 51% of the web content is available in more than one language.

Over a Third Still in One Language

The survey also revealed the profile of surveyed SMEs as half being run by 1–9 employees and about a third by 10–49 employees. Asked how they translate their website, 34% of SMEs said they translate it internally; 23% hire an LSP; 10% use post-edited machine translation (PEMT / MTPE); while 4% use raw MT.

On how they plan to translate various components of their website (e.g., generic info such as contact details, product or service descriptions, online shops, etc.), some 60% of SMEs said they would use MT in some form — and 75% expressed interest in participating in the European Commission’s free-of-charge pilot program that would make SME websites automatically multilingual.

If their website were to be made available in more languages, the SMEs surveyed said they expect, on average, to see a 32% increase in sales.

As previously shown in a Stripe survey, 9 in 10 lost sales in Europe came from failures at the checkout page, the most common error (74%) being the lack of local language translations when customers elsewhere in the EU tried to make a purchase.

The EC service in charge of the survey, DG CONNECT, told Slator, “The intention is for eTranslation to keep providing basic language technology solutions for public administrations and SMEs in the EU.”

The same source added that the free pilot program to make EU SME websites multilingual will be covered by the new financing program, DIGITAL, which is yet to be adopted; and any future plans for the free pilot will be elaborated within DIGITAL.

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EFNIL ELM Europe European Federation of National Institutions for Language European Language Monitor European Union Industry News

Searchable Database Gives Users an Overview of Language Policies in Europe – via


Searchable Database Gives Users an Overview of Language Policies in Europe

Something good has been brewing in Europe. The DG Interpretation news page ran an article on April 26, 2021 about a searchable database, which gives users an overview of legislation and planning around languages in all of Europe. Its creator is trade association EFNIL or the European Federation of National Institutions for Language.

The database, called the European Language Monitor (ELM), is searchable for topics such as what language regulations and technologies exist in an EU member country. It is currently divided into four databases according to years of data collection. The goal, to provide up-to-date, “qualitative and quantitative data, links to rulings and legislation and other types of documentation.”

The project began with ELM 1 (2004), which is no longer accessible. (ELM 2 is only described in two papers.) The latest, ELM 4 (2019), covers translation, interpretation, and other language-related data from 21 countries gathered between 2017 and 2018.


There is a three- to four-year gap in the collection of data, and geographical coverage varies between iterations. (ELM 3 (2014) covered all 27 member states.)

Data collection was done via questionnaire. Institutions in each country provided answers in the original language plus the English translation. So a search for trade unions in the Netherlands, for instance, would yield Dutch text with the English translation closely after.

Users can either search by keyword (i.e., type “machine translation” in the search bar) or by question; that is, ticking the box next to desired parameters, such as

  • Is there a legal / official regulation in your country concerning the use of languages in industry, commerce, business, or other working environments?
  • Which [sic] role do language technologies play in the language plan / strategy of your country?
  • What kinds of language technology services are provided and who provides them? Please give examples of services and providers.

Searches can also yield interesting data points around funding for research (if it applies to official languages only, for example, or if minority languages are included) down to which languages are used in the annual reports and websites of the top 10 biggest companies in the country.

Core data types between ELMs remained largely unchanged to allow comparison; although some questions are updated to apply to changing market needs.

The user interface between ELMs 3 and 4 was also greatly improved. The ELM 4 portal, although a bit on the exiguous side in terms of design, is intuitive and easy enough to navigate.

The group responsible for ELM is a lean team of five, most of whom have worked on the project for over a decade. Led by project manager and EFNIL VP, Sabine Kirchmeier (Denmark), the rest of the team are Cecilia Robustelli (Italy), Jennie Spetz (Sweden), Annemieke Hoorntje (the Netherlands), and Nina Teigland (Norway).


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