Europe Direct: Annual Report 2012 - page 12

12
First point of contact
The EDCC is often the first point
of contact with ‘Europe’ for many
citizens, which is why its role as a
primary information provider is so
important. Around 400 enquiries are
received by email and phone every
day from people raising a variety of
questions and issues.
“The topics tend to vary, depending on who is asking,” says Ioana
Beganu, the EDCC’s liaison officer. “If it’s a student, it might be
about scholarships, or what course to study to get into EU affairs.
Entrepreneurs might be asking about funding, finding partners or
opportunities to develop their business, while a family moving
abroad might want to know all sorts of things such as the impli-
cations for their health care, pension, or registering a car.”
In addition to providing accessible, practical advice, the EDCC is
also there to listen. “We speak all the European languages and as
a team have good cultural awareness,” Ms Beganu says. “In fact,
we often find that we are thanked just for being there to listen.”
The EDCC is made up of around 30 communication officers,
all based in Brussels, who manage to cover the 23 official EU
languages.
Citizens who phone the service (which can also be reached by
email) are first given a recorded choice of several languages,
depending on where they are calling from, before being put
through to the appropriate team member.
Ms Beganu, who speaks English, Romanian, French and Italian and
has a Masters in European Studies from Maastricht, has worked
for the EDCC since 2008. “I started as a junior communication
officer before becoming a senior officer and then a team leader/
information officer,” she explains. “At that point, you are informed
enough to support the team.”
Since January this year, Ms Beganu has been the EDCC liaison
officer, connecting the Centre with the unit responsible for the EDCC
within DG Communication. Although now based at the Commission,
she still visits the EDCC once a week. “The role is challenging as I
need to be aware of what is happening in both teams,” she admits.
“It’s a bit of a balancing act.”
The Europe Direct Contact Centre is currently working on removing
‘Euro-jargon’ from its replies to citizens’ queries, in an effort to
make the service even more accessible. “European issues are not
always easy to understand, and we really need to be making an
effort to be understandable,” Ms Beganu says. “After all, our audi-
ence is everyone, right down to school kids.”
© Ioana Beganu
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