European tender system is stalled by requirement to translate projects into languages of new member states
Hundreds of public sector construction projects across Europe may have been delayed by language difficulties caused by the expansion of the European Union on 1 May.

In the week after the accession of the 10 new member states, the Official Journal of the European Communities, the EU's register of public projects contained one-fifth of its usual number of tenders. This was the result of difficulties in translating the items into the new countries' languages.

According to Geo-UK, a consultant specialising in providing information about the European market, there were only 18 construction-related tenders in the first week of May, compared with 55 between 20 and 24 April.

Only 163 tenders across all industries were sent out on 1 May. The number rallied to 924 on 7 May but then fell back to 379 on 11 May.

Construction professionals are predicting that there could be a significant backlog while the publications office that handles the OJEC system battles to translate the backlog of tenders.

In a statement published on the website of the publications office, the EU admitted the delay and said it would last for a "few weeks".

The statement said: "We cannot promise you that all the main features previously available will be fully operational from the start. We are carrying out advanced checks of all the features provided and can assure you that any outstanding problems will be solved in the next few weeks."

Geo-UK managing director Roy Wood said the problem was not unexpected.

He said: "Not surprisingly, the OJEC office in Luxembourg has had some problems coping with the languages. There will be a backlog of notices but we anticipate a return to normal levels soon."

A spokesperson for the Office of Government Commerce said that the government had put its concerns that UK firms might lose business because of the tender problems to the European Commission, and was awaiting a response.