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Over 90 per cent of ATC members view EU exit negatively

More than 90 per cent of UK language service providers believe the country’s exit from the European Union will have an adverse effect on the sector’s ability to provide services to EU-based clients, according to a new poll.

 

The Association of Translation Companies (ATC) conducted an online survey of its members in July, asking them about the potential consequences of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

Ninety-two per cent of respondents said the decision would make it more difficult for them to do business with individuals and organisations based in other European countries.

The main concerns raised included the possibility of reduced access to the single market; the introduction of tariffs that would make language services uncompetitive; the added expense of bank transfers outside the EU; the impact of currency fluctuations; and the burdensome bureaucracy that may come with an exit from the EU.

The ATC is urging the government to take into consideration these concerns when negotiating terms of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Geoffrey Bowden, general secretary for the ATC, said: ‘In a pre-referendum poll, around 90 per cent of our members said that they were in favour of remaining in the EU, with almost 50 per cent attributing nearly a third of their current revenue to customers based within the EU.

‘It is unsurprising that the impact of a UK withdrawal from the EU on international trade is top of their list of concerns and we would encourage the government to sit up and take note of the issues raised – especially as any negotiated agreements will ultimately rely on the skills and abilities of linguists.’

Respondents to the survey also feared the decision to leave the EU could threaten the supply of mother-tongue linguists in the UK. More than two-thirds cited this as a key concern which they would like to see the UK government address in its negotiations.

ATC members are also calling for freedom of movement for freelance translators, residency rights for EU linguists currently living in Great Britain and Northern Ireland and internship grants for overseas students.

Bowden said: ‘A number of our universities offering translation and interpreting courses are under threat or have closed, and with uncertainty over the future of the Erasmus programme, it is possible that more UK universities will consider closing their translation and interpreting departments, threatening the future supply of linguistic talent in the UK. 

‘The UK language industry is responsible for more than 12,000 jobs,’ he concluded. ‘UK linguists will undoubtedly have a critical role to play in facilitating the Brexit negotiations themselves and we hope that the issues our members have highlighted are given fair consideration by those responsible for negotiating a positive exit package.’

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