blue-card question

September 19, 2014 2:15 pm



This week Members of the European Parliament gathered in Strasbourg for a plenary session. Not only a historic vote took place by which the EU-Ukraine association agreement was approved but a number of other important issues, such as the Ebola outbreak in West-Africa, were discussed (for more information click here). Therefore, in the light of the plenary session, this week we have chosen the term ”blue-card question” from our IATE database.

Now I am not exactly talking about football here, but I guess not knowing what this term stands for (or not being particularly fond of football), one could associate it with this sport and, surprisingly enough, there are some grounds for this wrong assumption. Even though a ”blue-card question” doesn’t work as a means of warning or penalty in the context of the plenary session in the EP, it is fair to say that it does create some tension. Have a look at the explanation of the term:

The President may give the floor to Members who indicate, by raising a blue card, their wish to put to another Member, during that Member’s speech, a question of no longer than half a minute’s duration, if the speaker agrees and if the President is satisfied that this will not lead to a disruption of the debate.

Imagine the plenary hall as a football field where the MEPs are the players. In the same way as getting a red or a yellow card in the football field makes the players aware of their actions, getting a blue-card question makes an MEP reflect on what s/he had said and respond to the given question. The procedure goes as follows:

When a Member raises his/her blue card, the President, if he/she judges it appropriate, will ask the speaker, normally at the close of his/her speech, if he/she is willing to take the question before giving the floor to the blue card speaker. The “blue-card” speaker has 30 seconds to ask a question and the original speaker 30 seconds to respond. A speaker can be interrupted by more than one blue-card holder, at the President’s discretion.

European Parliament translation and terminology trainees had an opportunity to visit the Parliament during the current session week, where they attended various seminars and observed the plenary session. I believe that I am speaking not only for myself when I say that the use of the blue-card question was one of the most interesting procedures. Not only does it spice up the session by prompting a spontaneous dialogue between MEPs, but it also gives a chance to express opposition and/or to make sound statements.

bleucardquestion IATE

We invite you to suggest the equivalent terms in the missing EU languages, or alternatives to the existing term in your language if you consider the proposed term inaccurate. Provide your answer with a reliable reference and an accurate definition and/or context if possible.

A terminologist for the language in question will revise your answer and decide whether to validate them. Given the implications of the process, a delay is to be expected.


The term can also be found in a glossary that has been compiled by DG TRAD’s Terminology Coordination Unit to help Members, their assistants and EP staff to find explanations of terms commonly used in Parliament. It contains 120 terms in English, French and German, with explanations in English

Guide for the plenary – European Parliament – Europa


By Julija Televičiūtė

Graduate from Vilnius University, English Philology (BA)

Translation trainee at Lithuanian Unit

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