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Commission sets up 'Europe Direct' information network as 'single service' for all European citizens' views on EU

Since 1 May 2005 anyone seeking information on the European Union can go directly to the 'EUROPE DIRECT contact centre'. This mechanism will be the 'single service' for any questions European citizens from the 25 Member States might have on the European Union. It replaces Info-Points Europe and Carrefours, which previously provided the public with data on subjects to do with the fifteen member EU. The EUROPE DIRECT information network is accessible by telephone or e-mail and in all the official languages of the enlarged Union.

The EUROPE DIRECT service offers: A single free phone number (00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11) which can be reached from anywhere in the 25 EU member states; A normal telephone number (+32-2-299.96.96) which can be dialled from anywhere in the world and for which normal telephone charges will apply; An e-mail service through the website where users can send questions by e-mail to which they receive a response within a few days; A Web Assistance Service through the same webpage where users can go online for a direct 'chat' with a EUROPE DIRECT agent, who will provide them with an answer in 'real-time'.

More complex questions may be signposted by the service's information agents to experts or specialised problem-solving services for follow-up. If and when appropriate, users will also be referred to other EU sources of information and advice on national, regional or local levels. All queries are handled by EUROPE DIRECT's multilingual staff of currently 30 communication agents who are based in Brussels. The EUROPE DIRECT operators undergo an extensive training programme which enables them to adequately deal with a wide range of issues. The service's performance is monitored on a daily basis by Directorate-General Press and Communication of the European Commission, which also handles questions of a politically sensitive or extremely specific nature directly or through liaison with the relevant services. Commissioner Wallstrm explained that all these components at EUROPE DIRECT Contact Centre created an information service of excellent quality that was able to provide an answer service of a personal nature, to questions posed by citizens. The opening hours of the service are Mondays to Fridays from 9h00 to 18h30 CET; outside these hours, users may leave a message on the EUROPE DIRECT voicemail system.

The network has almost 393 local information centres in 24 of the 25 Member States (with the exception of the United Kingdom, see below), 47 in Germany, 43 in Spain, 39 in Italy, 39 in France, 23 in Finland, 23 in Sweden, 23 in Poland, 20 in Hungary, 19 in Greece, 13 in the Netherlands, 13 in Portugal, 12 in Slovakia, 11 in Belgium, 11 in Austria, 9 in Latvia, 9 in Lithuania, 8 in Ireland, 7 in the Czech Republic, 7 au Denmark, 6 in Slovenia, 5 in Estonia, 4 in Cyprus, 2 in Luxembourg 1 in Malta.

News Details

Agence Europe