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Making citizens' rights a tangible reality: 500 Information Centres inform citizens across Europe

European Commission - IP/13/234   18/03/2013

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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 18 March 2013

Making citizens' rights a tangible reality: 500 Information Centres inform citizens across Europe

Today, Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission and Othmar Karas, Vice-President of the European Parliament launched a new generation of "Europe Direct Information Centres". The new network will extend possibilities for citizens to get practical information and advice on exercising rights in the European Union. There are now 500 centres in Europe, for the 500 million people in the European Union. Croatia will join the network later in 2013. The announcement comes as representatives from the centres are gathering in Brussels for the Annual General Meeting of the Europe Direct Network.

"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. Today's 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.

Background

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.

For more information

Direct link to Europe Direct:

http://europa.eu/europedirect/index_en.htm

Map with all "Europe Direct Information Centres":

http://europa.eu/europedirect/meet_us/interactive_map/index_en.htm

Debates with citizens on the Future of Europe:

http://ec.europa.eu/european-debate

European Year of Citizens:

http://europa.eu/citizens-2013

Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:

http://ec.europa.eu/reding

Follow the Vice-President on Twitter: @VivianeRedingEU

Contacts :

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)

Natasha Bertaud (+32 2 296 74 56)

ANNEX

1. The new generation of Europe Direct Information Centres (EDICs)

Number of EDICs per Member State (2013-2017)

Member State

Number of EDICs

Belgium

12

Bulgaria

15

Czech Republic

13

Denmark

5

Germany

55

Estonia

9

Ireland

8

Greece

19

Spain

47

France

50

Italy

48

Cyprus

3

Latvia

9

Lithuania

10

Luxembourg

2

Hungary

20

Malta

3

The Netherlands

14

Austria

11

Poland

31

Portugal

19

Romania

31

Slovenia

7

Slovakia

12

Finland

8

Sweden

20

United Kingdom

18

Total

499

2. Europe Direct Information Centres (EDICs) activities in 2012

Activities of Europe Direct Information Centres (EDICs)

per Member State

(Indicative statistics for 2012)

Member State

Number of EDICs selected for 2009-2012

Number of personal contacts (visits, email requests, telephone calls etc.)

Number of publications produced (reports, leaflets newsletters, leaflets, audio-visual material etc.)

Number of events organised

Austria

11

12647

215

38

Belgium

10

8324

194

151

Bulgaria

14

48906

315

335

Cyprus

2

2832

25

1

Czech Republic

11

5504

315

132

Denmark

4

5531

75

9

Estonia

8

9097

123

56

Finland

23

35742

122

105

France

56

123256

750

505

Germany

59

163959

867

459

Greece

18

12437

250

32

Hungary

18

23685

159

214

Ireland

7

11104

60

55

Italy

49

179731

894

695

Latvia

9

9099

224

125

Lithuania

10

17933

160

28

Luxembourg

2

5022

1

1

Malta

2

3003

31

16

The Netherlands

13

25721

267

59

Poland

27

58624

590

612

Portugal

16

8124

195

84

Romania

31

36643

901

257

Slovak Republic

12

6610

66

68

Slovenia

6

19847

106

121

Spain

47

102657

912

402

Sweden

19

30731

258

175

United Kingdom

16

70184

172

167

TOTAL

500

1036953

8247

4902

3. Over a million personal contacts in 2012 - Breakdown

1036953 personal contacts (visits, email requests, telephone calls etc.)


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