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Brussels, 23 January 2004

"EUROPA" is re-born: EU's transformed website aims to capture new audiences

EUROPA, the EU's multilingual internet site, is getting a fundamental face-lift in 2004 starting with a new-look home page launched today. The European Commission, which manages EUROPA, is making a major effort to capture new audiences, and especially to attract young people. By the end of March 2004, the emerging new EUROPA will offer many new services in a much more user-friendly way. It will feature animated graphs, interactive games, simpler navigation and an improved search function. The languages of the ten new EU countries will gradually be added . Most of the remaining planned changes will be in place by summer 2004.

EUROPA is probably the world's biggest internet site. It is a multilingual portal, giving access to all the public information and official documents produced by the European Union.

Much of this material is available in all the EU's official languages. That amounts to some 2.5 million information pages and other documents, plus thousands of photos. The European Commission manages EUROPA on behalf of all the EU institutions.

In November 2003, EUROPA had around 300 000 visitors per day, viewing some 4 million pages or documents. Since the site was created in 1995, its audience has increased at a rate of about 20% a year, reflecting the growing number of people who use the internet.

In 2003, there were more than 150 million internet users in the EU (45% of the total population), and this figure will rise by around 10 million when the new member states join on 1 May 2004.

Increasingly, people are interested in the European Union. Yet, according to opinion polls, 72% of the EU's citizens know little or nothing about it.

The new-look EUROPA targets this information gap. People visiting the site in 2004 will find witty, animated graphs presenting basic facts and figures about the EU, and interactive games that make it fun to learn about Europe's history and peoples.

From the new home page they can easily access simple and informative booklets, maps and other educational material, or dig deeper for more detailed information if they want it.

EU citizens wanting to study, work or retire in another EU country will be guided to very practical information about their rights and about the procedures to follow.

The traditional users of EUROPA - businesses, government departments, regional and local authorities, NGOs, universities and the media - will find the information they want presented by topic, with easier access to official documents as well as the interactive services provided by each individual institution.

The whole operation will be supported by the considerable improvement in EUROPA's search facility - a service that is, at present, rightly criticised by many users.

Updating a huge site like EUROPA in up to 20 languages is a daunting challenge for the European Commission. From spring 2004, the Commission will introduce modern content management tools that allow information production to be increasingly automated, and that improve cooperation among information providers, editors and translators. The goal is to continue serving the general public in all 20 official languages of the enlarged Union, and to make more specialist information available in a wider choice of languages than at present.

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