Saturday, 20 August 2011

Eurozone ”economic government” lost in translation?

Did the (Twin Peaks) ”economic government” for the eurozone get lost in translation?

For the blog post Eurozone: Our new ”economic government” I watched the video of the press conference at the Élysée Palace, in Paris. Based on what I heard and saw, I stated the novelty:

Both leaders describe their proposals as ”economic government” (gouvernement économique, Wirtschaftsregierung).

Since ”economic government” has been used mainly by the French, whereas others have usually spoken about ”economic governance”, I corroborated this novelty by referring to the German press release 'Deutschland und Frankreich für europäische Wirtschaftsregierung', although the link now leads to another press release headlined 'Deutschland und Frankreich für starken Euro', which seems to have airbrushed ”europäische Wirtschaftsregierung” by replacing it with ”starken Euro” (which, incidentally, is another cup of tea).

I did not see ”Wirtschafsregierung” in the text, either, so a minor act in Ministry of Truth style seems to have taken place at the German chancellor's office.


In the blog post Merkel and Sarkozy: Eurozone letter to Van Rompuy, I referred to the French version of the press conference text:

According to the Élysée version, president Sarkozy refers to the letter to Van Rompuy with the joint proposal for

...un véritable gouvernement économique de la zone euro. Ce gouvernement économique sera constitué du Conseil des chefs d'Etat et de gouvernement.

In the German transcript only Sarkozy's second ”gouvernement économique” is preserved as ”Wirtschaftsregierung”:

...eine wirtschaftspolitische Steuerung der Eurozone vorzusehen. Diese Wirtschaftsregierung besteht aus den Staats- und Regierungschefs.

According to the two transcripts (and part translations), chancellor Merkel does not use the term ”Wirtschaftsregierung”, so the the use of term seems to rest on the airbrushed press release.

Letter to Van Rompuy

As I noted and wondered in the blog post Merkel and Sarkozy letter: My reading, the different ”original” language versions of the joint letter to Herman Van Rompuy employ different terms.

- des réunions régulières des Chefs d'État et de Governement de la zone euro : ces sommets se tiendront deux fois par an si nécessaire des sessions extraordinaires seront convoquées. Ces sommets constitueront la pierre angulaire du nouveau gouvernement économique de la zone euro.

- Regelmässige Treffen der Staats- und Regierungschefs des Euro-Währungsgebiets: Diese Treffen werden zweimal pro Jahr und wenn nötig zu außerordentlichen Sitzungen einberufen und dienen als Eckpfeiler der verbesserten wirtschaftlichen Steuerung des Euro-Währungsgebiets.

English is hardly the source language, but the target language:
- Regular meetings of the euro area Heads of State and Government: these meetings will be convened twice a year and when necessary in extraordinary session to act as the cornerstone of the enhanced economic governance of the euro area.


Grandiloquent to speak about ”economic government” to begin with, given the substance and lack of real democratic legitimacy of the proposals, although heads of state or government, more easily than outside observers, might perceive railroading the other EU institutions and eurozone arrangements on a permanent basis as part of their higher calling.

We have a joint letter, but which version should president Van Rompuy and the rest of us read with regard to the crucial term?

Has ”economic government” reverted to ”economic governance” outside France and the French language?

To set the record straight, could the Ministry of Truth (Berlin branch office) offer guidance?


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Ralf Grahn