European Commission Appoints Christos Ellinides as Director-General, Translation

EC Translation Head

Christos Ellinides has been appointed as the new Director-General at the Directorate-General for Translation (DGT) in the European Commission (EC), effective December 1st. With a career over a decade long in the EC going back to his first position as Directorate-General Digital Services (DIGIT) in 2006, Ellinides has served in multiple leadership capacities and divisions. He joined the DGT as acting Director-General in March 2022.

Ellinides also holds a concurrent position as Chairman of the Management Board of the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the EU, which is a decentralized EU agency based in Luxembourg.

Before working in the EC, Ellinides, a polyglot, trained engineer, and computer scientist, led multiple service organizations. He told Slator that he was responsible for providing technological solutions and digital services in various private companies, operating mainly in Europe and the USA for over two decades.

Ellinides’ work in the DCG goes back further than 2022: in late 2014, he was nominated as Deputy Director-General for DGT. He was responsible then for the core operation of the DGT, the translation directorates, which include almost 2000 staff members. He explained that the new appointment is a continuation of what he set out to do since he first joined DGT, including upholding the DGT’s mission and vision as a provider of high-quality translation and other language services in the EC.

In collaboration with his colleagues, the new DG intends to promote and facilitate multilingual communication in Europe and, as he put it, “making sure all citizens in all Member States get the correct messages (political, social, economic, or otherwise) in their own language.”

On AI and Other Translation Technologies

Ellinides also expects to leverage evolving translation technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI). “I believe I will draw on my expert knowledge and past experience in the technological domain when leading DGT through the evolution which the translation profession is undergoing as we speak,” he added.

The new DG revealed that the demand for human translation and machine translation (MT) has been increasing since the introduction of neural machine translation in 2017 and the DGT translates today more than ever before. The perspective at the institution is that neither MT nor AI tools will replace jobs. Instead, the technologies will change the mix of tasks involved in those jobs.

“We should not forget that the nature of AI is probabilistic, not deterministic. This means that we can never have a complete, 100% guarantee regarding the accuracy of its output or the absence of any subtle biases or influences in that output. That makes human judgment indispensable.” — Christos Ellinides

Ellinides expects that some of the repetitive and time-consuming tasks will be taken over by AI, leaving more time for more creative and stimulating work. In his opinion, the skillset and profile of translators will evolve into one of “multitasking tech-savvy professionals in what is becoming a multi-faceted industry.” 

“We should not forget that the nature of AI is probabilistic, not deterministic. This means that we can never have a complete, 100% guarantee regarding the accuracy of its output or the absence of any subtle biases or influences in that output. That makes human judgment indispensable,” stated Ellinides. 

The new DG also mentioned that the DGT is currently spearheading AI solutions in the EC and beyond. The institution is leveraging extensive expertise in training AI-powered language models, working with language data, and using language technologies.

“I will personally continue to steer the organization in a firm and forward looking way in precisely this direction,” he added.