...the EU is leading the “Kyoto” drive to reduce the air pollution that causes global warming? People in Europe are very environmentally conscious. So the EU is spearheading world efforts to preserve the environment and promote sustainable development. In recent years it has been important to get as many countries in the world as possible to take action to combat climate change as agreed in the “Kyoto Protocol” - like Europeans do themselves.
The Commission’s dialogue with EU citizens takes many forms. The Commission consults very widely, but it also provides user-friendly information on key policies — both in print and on the Internet. Valerie has daily contact with citizens looking for information on the environment.
Valerie was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1965. She works as a Library Assistant/Publications Officer.
Valerie and her husband moved to Brussels from Dublin in 1990 when he got a job with the European Parliament. Five years later, she moved to the Commission from a job in an international accounting firm.
Initially a secretary in the department for transport, she then sought a job where she could have more contact with people, work more independently and have direct responsibilities. ‘The Commission offers good opportunities from that point of view. If heads of unit see any kind of potential, they try to use it.’
Valerie found what she was looking for in the information centre of the department for the environment. ‘I am involved in producing our publications, which involves liaison with outside contractors. I also deal with requests for these publications from the general public.’
‘Our publications are not technical. They try to explain environment policy in lay terms, including special series for school students. I am also responsible for seeing that e-mail queries get answered within the time limit of 15 working days the Commission has set itself. That is sometimes quite difficult. We get hundreds of enquiries that are often quite technical.’
In the afternoons, the centre’s library is open to the public. ‘We get visitors from all over the EU. That makes every day very different, because you don’t know who’ll come in or what they want to know. Often the information is available on the Internet, but people don’t always know where to look or how to search efficiently, so they end up with a lot of useless information. I enjoy helping them find exactly what they need.’