"Europe Direct Information Centres are our frontline - the public face, the eyes, ears and mouth of our policies and of the rights of citizens on the ground," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. "The figures are staggering: the Centres received over a million questions last year alone. So today we are extending the network so the centres may continue to play their part in answering citizens' questions and helping to stimulate a European debate at local level."
The new centres were selected by the European Commission for a five-year period on the basis of an open competition. Successful candidates, co-funded by the European Commission, can now use the label of a "Europe Direct Information Centre". Most centres are run by regional or local authorities, associations or chambers of commerce.
The first generation of centres was launched in 2005. People across Europe have been using them more and more ever since. Just for the past four years of the second generation, centres received as many as about 3.3 million personal enquiries, organised more than 41,000 events and answered more than a million e-mails.
The Europe Direct Network has a crucial role to play in providing a direct link to people in their own country, speaking to them in a way that is both relevant and understandable to. The announcement comes during the 2013 European Year of Citizens, a year dedicated to European citizens and their rights. As part of the outreach efforts, throughout the year 2013, Vice-President Reding and her fellow Commissioners will join forces with national and local politicians in holding debates with citizens all across Europe – to listen to them and answer their questions.
The Europe Direct information Network was first launched in 2005. The centres in the Member States are one of the European Commission's means of providing outreach for the general public at local level. The services of the centres are free to the general public.
The centres are co-financed and receive a maximum of 25,000 EUR per year from the European Commission for their EU information activities. The total EU budget for all centres remains unchanged at a maximum of 11.4 million EUR per year.
Four different services are available for people under the umbrella of “Europe Direct”. All of them serve citizens, all of them are free of charge.
The Europe Direct Contact Centre (EDCC) offers an EU-wide phone and mail information service on all EU matters;
Europe Direct Information Centres (EDICs) are local contact points. They provide information and answer questions on all kind of European matters. And they answer in person and taking account of the local context. Well-trained staff engages with people by organising events in schools, debates with local and regional politicians and present Europe at fairs. With over a million enquires every year, European decision-makers also have a chance to learn directly about peoples’ needs and concerns.
European Documentation Centres promote education and research on EU integration. They offer a wide range of documents on European affairs and encourage the academic community to engage in the debate on Europe.
Team Europe speakers on EU affairs. Specialists in different EU related topics, they speak at conferences, in universities and schools on European matters.
Direct link to Europe Direct:
Map with all "Europe Direct Information Centres":
Debates with citizens on the Future of Europe:
European Year of Citizens:
Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:
Follow the Vice-President on Twitter: @VivianeRedingEU