This section explains the basic concepts of the communication strategy of the European Commission via the Internet and its practical implementation. It contains an overview of the communication policy (including links to all relevant documents), explains the structure of the europa.eu domain and tells you how the different sites in this domain are managed.
As a staff member involved in site production and/or maintenance and especially if you are a new staff member of a web unit, you should:
EUROPA is the European Union's Web portal accessible via the address http://europa.eu. It is managed by the European Commission (DG COMM) in co-ordination with all EU institutions. Given the central role of the Commission, the name EUROPA is also widely used to refer to both this portal and the European Commission’s own website hosted at the address http://ec.europa.eu. DG Communication has direct responsibility for the top-level pages of Europa, such as the homepage and a number of general information sites directly accessible from it, as well as for the Commission’s homepage and the overall co-ordination of the sites of the Commission’s directorates-general and services. Each institution and each directorate-general or service are responsible for the individual style and contents of their own site.
EUROPA provides a vast array of information on European integration concerning the European Union's objectives, policies and institutional set-up. It is designed to be as user-friendly as possible in line with the EU institutions' commitment to openness and one of its main objectives is to make information accessible to the greatest number of people possible. This means not only dealing with the problems posed by all forms of physical handicap or those faced by all the people on the wrong side of the digital divide, but also providing information in as many EU languages as possible. Compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, level AA is guaranteed, at least for the top level pages. For the same reason multilingualism is a priority for the Commission, and the number of EUROPA official languages is bound to be further increased with the next rounds of enlargement.
The EUROPA site was launched in February 1995 on the occasion of the G7 ministerial meeting on the information society organised by the Commission in Brussels. Although it was originally designed for that particular event, EUROPA expanded rapidly and the Commission decided to turn it into a useful information resource for everyone, specialising in all matters covered by the EU Treaties and the work of the European Institutions. The general public makes great use of EUROPA and statistics show an average of 165 million page viewings per month.
The EUROPA family contains a large number of sites, ranging from the top level inter-institutional EUROPA site, the first entry point for the general public, to specialised sites giving information to a very specific population. This chapter gives an overview of the sites that are part of the EUROPA family. It shows which sites are constructed following the rules of this Information Providers Guide.
Strictly speaking, EUROPA only refers to the top level institution-independent site http://europa.eu. However, as explained in the previous section, the term EUROPA is often used to refer to all sites managed by the Commission. These include the general public sites with URLs of type xxx.europa.eu and the Commission site http://ec.europa.eu. The Inventory of EUROPA websites offers comprehensive list with detalied information for each website: the URL, the domain, the webmaster, the DG, the type of site, its audience, the theme or topic, the statistics, the technology, the number of pages, etc.
The top level pages of EUROPA are usually the first point of contact a citizen will have with the EU websites. The site user does not necessarily need to know the structure of the EU or who does what. The same holds for the other general public sites which are adressed with a specific name such as xxx.europa.eu because of their particular aim (the section Types of sites provides a detailed description of the sites that are part of the EUROPA family). On the other hand, the Commission pages concern only the European Commission and may require some more specialised knowledge.
The sites of all EU institutions (European Parliament, European Commission, Council, etc.) are part of the EUROPA family and can be accessed through the main EUROPA site, serving as the gateway to these institutions. The appartainance to the family is shown by the URL of the institutional sites which has the form http://institution.europa.eu, such as for example http://europarl.europa.eu.
This guide describes the rules to which sites managed by the Commission have to comply.
The interinstitutional "europa.eu" site brings together information from all the European institutions. Even though each institution manages its own site, EUROPA is designed as the starting point for all information concerning the European Union. Around 30 million visitors a month start their search for EU information from the homepage which is available in 24 languages.
The aim of the europa.eu top level pages are twofold:
The top level pages are run by DG Communication on behalf of the EU institutions.
Interinstitutional Editorial Committee was created to set up a permanent structure to coordinate the development of the institutions’ websites. The Committee meet on a regular basis to discuss the development of these pages and also to discuss the EU's Web presence more generally.
The top level pages offer a beginner's guides to EU policies. This section is also under review to respond to user feedback and to make the pages more dynamic (eg including updated news and events in each policy field).
Sites that have an interinstitutional mission and content or which are not linked to a particular institution or DG can be hosted at EU level.
Examples of sites which have an EU character include:
Sites targeting the general public and providing EU information not related to a single Institution or DG can also have an europa.eu name. For more details see the section on types of sites.
The europa.eu site serves as a portal or linking service to EU information online. The site is divided into 6 main topics:
There are around 80 pages behind the home page which send visitors to many 1000s of different sources of EU information. Each link is explained briefly to help users in their search. The two most popular sections are About the EU and Publications and documents. The home page also provides quick links to EU institutions and bodies, as well as contact information, news and features.
The design, layout and navigation of the site was tested extensively on users and was designed for accessibility and quick download times.
The Commission site provides access to great deal of information provided by the different Directorates-General, Services and Commissioners private offices. This information may be administrative or thematic and relates to the executive role of the European Commission – such as its legislation and policy initiatives, work programmes, services, official documents, news and current affairs (press releases, events, etc.). The Commission site also provides the contact points for the various Commission departments, the Representations and the Delegations.
The different sites that in their entirety compose the Commission site are managed by the individual Directorates-General and services in a decentralised way.
Each site, however, must fit into the overall structure of the Commission's site, which means that they must:
Commission sites can be divided into two main categories:
The Commission pages are easily recognisable by their banner/template. A few examples of Commission templates can be seen at the following sites: European Commission, EuropeAid, Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020, and so on.
DG Communication has direct responsibility for the Commission’s home page and for the overall co-ordination of the sites of the Commission’s directorates-general and services. Each directorate or individual service is responsible for the contents of its own site.
Some principles should apply to all categories:
All official websites of the European Institutions and Agencies must use URL address in the second level domain europa.eu with the following syntax: (ec.)europa.eu/sitename.
View all IPG Rules
For the purposes of consistency of presentation, search engine optimization and to project a corporate identity of the EUROPA pages, there are several requirements related to the creation of web addresses and file names.
Following a decision of the Secretariat-General , the web pages of the European institutions are using a common second level domain europa.eu. The use of other second level domain names is not allowed for hosting official EU sites. Nevertheless in order to protect them from abuse by third parties a certain number of second level domain names have been reserved by the EU institutions at the start up of the .eu domain.
The second level domain europa.eu is managed by the Commission.
The document "Règles et procédures pour l’attribution d’adresses de sites web gérés par les institutions, organes et organismes de l’Union européenne dans le domaine .eu " issued by the Interinstitutional Editorial Committee for Internet (CEiii) describes the detailed rules for allocation of higher level domain names within the europa.eu domain.
The names of the institutions’ and agencies' sites are composed by adding a third level identification (for example for the Commission ec.europa.eu or the Parliament europarl.europa.eu)
Executive agencies of the Commission can have their own fourth level domain name within the third level domain ec.europa.eu.
Third level names other than institution names can be attributed for special sites, subject to the approval of the CEiii. The creation of such third level names should nevertheless be the exception. Preference must be given to the creation of sites within the europa.eu or ec.europa.eu domain.
Allocation of site names within the europa.eu or ec.europa.eu domain is governed by the rules explained in the section 'Types of websites' .
Generally speaking the following rules apply:
As explained in the section 'Types of sites', it is important to keep a homogeneous approach to the site structure of the Commission sites. Information about a specific topic should be presented in the context of the policy to which it belongs. This can however create naming problems when that topic needs special promotion because of its high importance. The URL of the subsite presenting the topic can be too long to be promoted.
To answer this problem, shorter 'virtual' addresses can be created that will redirect to the real address.
If you on the other hand are looking for a short version of a EUROPA-related URL, using a random code, please follow the instructions available on the URL Shortener page.
Websites must use the following syntax: (ec.)europa.eu/sitename.
URLs must not be printed on promotional material (e.g. posters, leaflets) before the URLs have been approved and set up. The address must be checked in a browser before going to print.
URLs must not be printed in upper case: (EC.)EUROPA.EU/SITENAME is not the same as (ec.)europa.eu/sitename and the upper case examples will not work.
Sites must be structured by subject, and not by language. Files are not segregated into separate language-specific directories. Rather, language must be reflected in the name of the web pages themselves. Thus, all the different language versions of any given document must be found together in a single directory.
Filenames for different language versions of the same web document are assigned as follows: The 'base-name' for each version must be exactly the same, and expressed in English.
A suffix is added to the 'base-name', preceded by an underscore character '_', indicating the language of the document, followed by the file extension. The 'standard suffix' uses the ISO abbreviation for the language in question (_bg, _cs, _da, _de, _et, _el, _en, _es, _fr, _ga, _it, _lv, _lt, _hr, _hu, _mt, _nl, _pl, _pt, _ro, _sk, _sl, _fi, _sv) (as in index_en.htm, index_bg.htm, index_cs.htm…).
The multilingual index page used as default has to be named without any language suffix.
All names of directories and files must be in lower case to avoid problems of compatibility between platforms which are case-sensitive (e.g. UNIX) and those which are not (e.g. DOS/Windows).
In case a file name or URL contains multiple words, it is necessary to separate these words by preferably hyphen '-' (Correct: multiple-words_en.htm) or underscore '_' (Correct: multiple_words_en.htm). While there is no technical difference between these two options, words separated by hyphens are more intelligible to search engines and webmasters are urged to choose them.
For reasons of clarity and search engine optimization, the use of merged multiple word names is not allowed (Incorrect: multiplewords_en.htm). For the same reasons the file names should be meaningful words or phrases and not series of numbers (Incorrect: 546846321_en.htm).
Do not include unnecessary words such as 'and' and 'the' on the folder and file names.
You should follow the procedure described on how to request a web address.
The sites in the europa.eu domain are managed in a decentralised way. This means that each Community institution or body, including each Commission Directorate-General (DG) is responsible for the creation, management and update of the pages and sites that concern them.
The advantage of this is that content is added and updated more quickly and is done closer to the source of the information concerned, thereby improving its accuracy.
Possible disadvantages concern the difficulties in coordinating the creation, updating and evolution of such decentralised sites. It is also more difficult to keep a common presentational identity, which can lead to citizens’ disorientation. There is also always a risk of duplicating information.
To achieve optimal coordination europa.eu is managed in a very structured way. It is based on 3 basic principles: strategy and planning of overall site policy, day-to-day coordination of websites, and types of roles involved in management of the websites.
The strategy and planning is ensured at committee level. Representatives from DG’s and/or institutions are appointed accordingly, ensuring coordination among the respective entities. The day-to-day work of course takes place at Information and Communication Unit or Web Sector level. Coordination and support is ensured by the EUROPA team in DG COMM with technical backup from your DG’s Information Resources Manager (IRM) who can, if necessary, receive the support of the Directorate-General of Informatics (DIGIT). Depending on the DG’s web team and/or site(s) organisation, many different roles are described in this section. Ideally, one role would correspond to one person, but in practice, one person will assume several roles at various times and at various points in the process.
The strategy and planning of the overall policy of the sites on EUROPA is managed via different high-level committees.
At the interinstitutional level (europa.eu), it is the Interinstitutional Editorial Committee for Internet (CEiii) that ensures the coordination.
The governance structure for managing sites within the Commission's domain (ec.europa.eu) is defined in its Internet strategy paper "Communicating about Europe via the Internet - Engaging the citizens ". It foresees the appointment of an EUROPA editor who is the final decision-maker on all daily operations for the content of the top layers of the EUROPA and Commission websites. The editor is assisted by an editorial board composed of permanent members and complemented where necessary and appropriate by Internet editors designated by their DGs. A technical committee steers all technical decisions necessary to offer a modern and powerful Internet platform, based on input from the webmaster community represented through the EUROPA Webmasters Forum.
Interinstitutional Editorial Committee was created on the basis of recommendations from the Inter-institutional Internet Task Force to set up a permanent structure to coordinate the development of the institutions’ websites.
The committee works according to mandate proposed by the Task Force.
It is chaired by the Commission department responsible for EUROPA (DG COMM); it meets every six weeks.
Interinstitutional Editorial Committee deals with very varied subjects depending on political timeliness, technological development, etc.:
The committee does not have either strict decision making authority or responsibility for managing or distributing a budget. It aims mainly to facilitate the exchange of information between institutions and to standardise as much as possible their practices on EUROPA, although these remain their own responsibility.
The main mission of the ECN is to exchange best practices on preparation and implementation of communication plans and other communication practices. It also aims at facilitating DG COMM's assistance to other DGs on technical issues and strives towards a more effective and cost-efficient use of tools (audiovisual, Internet, citizens' help-lines, etc.) and evaluation methods.
The ECN, composed of all DGs' Information and Communication Heads of Unit, was created in 2002 and was relaunched with the Action Plan to Improve Communicating Europe by the Commission (SEC(2005) 985/final, see action 4).
The members of the ECN are the Heads of the DGs Communication Units as described in the Action Plan. However, other representatives of DGs may attend ECN meetings and working groups, if the agenda requires.
Within the context of EUROPA, the ECN has the following mandate:
The ECN meets approximately 5-6 times a year on the basis of established agendas. The meetings of the ECN are organised and chaired by DG COMM.
The ECN has four working groups, in charge of the implementation of the Action Plan:
The ECN meets approximately 5-6 times a year on the basis of established agendas. The meetings of the ECN are organised and chaired by DG COMM.
In accordance to the Communication Towards the e-Commission: Europa 2nd generation adopted on 6 July 2001 (C(2001)1753), a EUROPA Forum has been created. Its role was confirmed by the Internet Strategy Communication Communicating about Europe via the Internet .
The EUROPA Forum is made up by the representative(s) of every Directorate-General and department of the Commission.
Each Directorate-General and department shall formally nominate the person(s) responsible for the websites of the Directorate-General or department as its representative(s) to the Europa Forum.
Webmasters from the other Community institutions may attend the meetings of the EUROPA Forum as observers.
The EUROPA Forum meetings:
As a formal instance of EUROPA’s management structure as defined in the Communication C(2001)1753, the Forum will:
The Forum shall appoint a President, or joint Presidents, for a minimum period of six months. It shall decide its work programme and working calendar.
The EUROPA Forum shall nominate its representative(s) in the Technical Committee. The representative(s) in this committee shall report the opinions of the EUROPA Forum.
Meetings of the EUROPA Forum shall be convened by the President(s).
The President(s) shall draw up the draft agenda for the meetings of the EUROPA Forum.
The presidency is responsible of the secretarial aspects of the Forum, with the exception of drafting the minutes which are assumed by the incoming presidency
The President(s) may decide to invite experts to talk on particular matters, at the request of a member or on its own initiative.
The EUROPA Forum may organise practical workshops and may create working parties to examine particular issues. The working parties shall report back to the Forum.
If deemed necessary by the members of the EUROPA Forum, the Forum will adopt its voting rules in due course.
The EUROPA Forum has its own functional mailbox, so if you wish to contact the presidents, please address your email to EC-EUROPA-FORUM@ec.europa.eu where presidents of the forum will find it.
The Forum was initiated by Benedictus Nieuwenhuis and Giulio Groppi. Since January 1998, the EUROPA Forum has gathered informally every two or three months representatives with web responsibilities from all Commission services.
EUROPA Forum organises training and workshops. Check if any material is useful for you in the Training chapter.
In accordance with the Internet Strategy Communication Communicating about Europe via the Internet an EUROPA editor has been appointed. He/she will be responsible for the day-to-day management of EUROPA from an editorial standpoint.
The EUROPA editor is appointed by the Director-General of DG COMM.
In accordance with the Internet Strategy Communication Communicating about Europe via the Internet the EUROPA Editorial Committee was created.
The Editorial Committee, chaired by the EUROPA Editor, is composed of permanent members of SPP, SG, DGT, OP, CONNECT & FPI and DIGIT and complemented (where required and/or on their own request) by the Internet editors of DGs, Representations or by representatives of relevant project teams.
As a formal instance of EUROPA’s management structure as defined in the Communication Communicating about Europe via the Internet , the Editorial Committee will
The Editorial Committee is presided by the EUROPA Editor who decides its work programme and working calendar.
The Editorial Committee meets approximately 6 times a year on the basis of established agendas. The meetings are organised and chaired by DG COMM.
The Internet editors provide and manage editorial content for the web pages and sites of line DGs and Representations, in particular for the citizen-oriented pages. They also assist DG COMM in implementing the Internet strategy throughout EUROPA.
This is an interesting but also demanding job. Internet editors therefore need:
List of meetings, held on:
In accordance with the Internet Strategy Communication Communicating about Europe via the Internet , the EUROPA Technical Committee was created.
The Technical Committee, chaired by DG DIGIT, is composed of permanent members of DGs COMM, OP, CONNECT, SCIC, DGT, and the chairman of the EUROPA Forum.
As a formal instance of EUROPA’s management structure as defined in the communication Communicating about Europe via the Internet , the Technical Committee will:
The Technical Committee is presided by DG DIGIT who decides its work programme and working calendar.
You can find more information on its wiki site.
The Technical Committee has a schedule of meetings.
DGs who are the owners of the respective sites are at the centre of this website development and maintenance process. They are assisted in their tasks of creation and maintenance by a number of other Commission services (DG COMM, DIGIT, OP, DG Translation, etc.)
You can contact the EUROPA team on the page all EUROPA support contact points.
The EUROPA team assists departments in planning, creating and managing sites on EUROPA.
It provides support and advice for online communication, including:
For the creation of new sites, this includes the following:
Each DG appoints a EUROPA coordinator and has one (or more) webmaster(s) responsible for the technical aspects of their web pages.
The role of the EUROPA coordinator is to:
The unit within the DGT responsible for assisting the Commission with its multilingual web publication needs is DGT.D.2 (Web Translation). The unit is entirely self-contained, comprising a small team of translators (maximum 5) for each official language, an editing team (EN) and its own planning team.
The Web Translation team offers a project-based service to authoring DGs, to help them produce multilingual web content from start to finish as efficiently as possible, given its own limited resources. The idea is to involve the DGT from the earliest possible stage of web page creation, to ensure the original text sent for translation is fit for purpose in terms of both quantity and quality.
Collaboration in ensuring production of web optimised texts
Since 2012, a DGT Dashboard application has been developed into the CWCMS to facilitate the workflow for the request of translation of web pages. Everyone can use it after requesting access to the translation functionality. The DGT Dashboard allows tracking the progress of the translation requests done by the user.
To request access to the DGT Dashboard and for more information, please read the page "How to request access to the translation functionality".
Tools DGT uses
Related roles and resources
DIGIT, in partnership with all relevant stakeholders, has the responsibility to:
The point of contact for infrastructure services provided by Infrastructure Services Provision (DIGIT-C) at the Data Centre is the Account Manager (or Customer Relationship Manager or CRM) of your DG.
The Account Managers per DG are listed in this DIGIT's table.
More information: DIGIT Services - Information System Hosting
The Publications Office of the European Union (Publications Office or OP) is the publishing house of the European institutions, and is responsible for publishing and distributing printed and multimedia publications. It produces and distributes the Official Journal of the European Union and the General Report on Activities of the European Union. Other publications (printed and multimedia) are issued with the aim of furthering the development of the Union and its policies, and other publications are intended as information channels for the general public or specific professional circles.
The Office is an interinstitutional body, and functions under the auspices of the European Commission. It is governed by a Management Committee, on which each institution is represented by its Secretary-General.
In order to bring information to the citizen, the Publications Office cooperates with the EU institutions, agencies and bodies to further enhance the transparency of the legislative process and of European policies and to facilitate access to European legislation and information published in the L (Legislation), C (Information and Notices) and S (Public procurement) series of the Official Journal and on the related EUR-Lex and TED websites. The citizen has access to European Publications through the EU Bookshop and contact information for EU Officials can be found via EU Whoiswho, the official directory of the European Union.
The Publications Office know–how is available to all who require help and advice with publications projects (electronic and paper). The OP works with framework contracts to produce publications together with external contractors (see IPG section on Subcontracting, Accessibility, Usability and Ergonomics). Directorates-General and institutions can submit a request for a publication which will be produced in-house or with the help of an external contractor. OP advises on technical specifications; helps plan, prepare and manage projects and ensure quality of the finished product; ensures conformity with the rules governing use of framework contracts and house style guides.
The Publications Office has a number of such contracts which can be used to carry out multimedia and print publications projects. See IPG section listing OP framework contracts. Also please refer to PubliCare (services offered by the Publications Office) and the Publications Office intranet for further information.
The Publications Office maintains a representative at the Europa Forum, and has participated in the revision of the Information Providers Guide, offering expertise and keeping colleagues up to date on work of OP and ways in which OP and other DGs can collaborate.
DG COMM has made use of Publications Office framework contracts for carrying out various publications and IT projects.
The Publications Office has permanent contact with DIGIT. DIGIT is hosting most of the website managed by the Publications Office (EUR-Lex, SIMAP, publications.europa.eu …).
You will find the widest range of services offered by the Publications Office for the production and dissemination of the general publications of the European Union: assignment of identifiers, graphic design, proofreading, production, dissemination, fulfilment and storage.
Title in "Address Book"
Types of messages handled
Publications Office products and activities
General questions on activities and products of the Publications Office
Depending on whether your site is interinstitutional, a portal, it is thematic, managed by an Editorial Board or by a single person, certain roles are identified in this section according to the functions that need to be performed in order to come up and maintain a informative, user-friendly and valuable website.
Several functions-roles can be performed by one or more members of your team, depending on the available human resources and the site’s aim.Top
Each DG appoints a EUROPA coordinator and has one (or more) webmaster(-s) responsible for the technical aspects of site management.
The role of the webmaster is to:
Person who manages a website. Responsible for the HW/SW of the web server. Also publishes web content on the site if content providers do not have access rights.
The tasks of the webmaster are to:
Webmasters has to have following skills:
Each DG appoints a EUROPA coordinator and has one (or more) webmasters responsible for the technical aspects of site management.
The role of the EUROPA coordinator is to:
The role of the webmaster is to:
Each Directorate-General and department shall formally nominate the person(s) responsible for the website of the Directorate-General or department as its representative(s) to the EUROPA Forum.
Please, notify EUROPA Management of any changes to the list.
The Internet editor provides and manages editorial content for the websites of line DG's and Representations, in particular for the citizen-oriented pages. He/she works closely with the webmaster.
He/she also assists DG COMM in implementing the Internet strategy throughout EUROPA.
Internet editor needs:
Most of the Commission’s staff could function as a content provider for a website and, therefore, it is very important for these content producers to have at heir disposal tools that are easy to learn and intuitive.
The DGs and institutions can benefit from the know-how and experience of the sub-contractors from DIGIT, DG COMM or OP. These sub-contractors are specialised in producing websites and/or electronic or paper publications in accordance with the editorial, graphical and technical rules of the European Commission.
When establishing a contract, make sure to indicate clearly the requirement for conformity with the IPG and with any other guide you want the contractor to respect. This will allow you to request all necessary corrections resulting from any non-conformity, without any possible claim from the contractor for additional payment.
The EUROPA team provides support to the Webmasters in their task of ensuring that the quality of the existing or new site conforms to the defined standards and recommendations. The EUROPA team offers a quality control service to verify the quality of your site. Two types of analysis are carried out for this purpose: in-depth analysis and technical analysis.
The website manager is responsible for the smooth functioning of the website.
A key position in the Web organization today is the Web architect, the visionary who bridges the Web content and technical domains, acting as a pivot point between the technical and the non technical members of the Web team.
Should be thoroughly familiar with the organisation and purpose of the service, because he/she designs the structure and content of the Web, in conjunction with the Content Manager.
Having had technical training, the web developer will have the technical ability to create web applications for the site.
The web developer participates in the construction of those websites that not only consist of static pages rather they contain transactional or personalised functions.
He / she will have had an artistic training, and will be responsible for all visual aspect of the site. The Web designer may also work with multimedia applications (video, audio, animation, etc).
The aim is to make the web site more alive, intuitive and enjoyable.
Read transcript or proof type-setup to detect and mark for correction any grammatical, typographical, or syntax errors.
The web translator tasks are:
Required skills are:
This is the person who views the content of the website. In the case of an Intranet, it would be limited to those people belonging to the organisation that owns the Intranet.
As regards Internet, all people with access to Internet could read the content of those EC websites on the Internet, therefore we can group our Internet website users into two categories:
The 2004-2009 European Commission is the first European Commission to officially make Communication a strategic objective. This was “sealed” with the adoption on 20 July 2005 of an action plan by the Commission to improve "communicating Europe". But the shaping of the European Commission’s Communication policy and strategy starts earlier with the documents, listed below (last at the top).
Websites are a key tool to inform citizens and stakeholders about EU policies, legislation, their rights in the internal market, grants, employment opportunities and many other things that affect their daily lives. Furthermore, the web is a very cost-effective, accessible and efficient means of communication, which is particularly relevant in the current political and financial context where we must account for every euro of taxpayer´s money we spend.
European Commission (EC) is rationalising its presence on the web. The EC EUROPA webrationalising programme aims to improve the quality of our online information and services.
Read the high-level note about websites' rationalisation addressed in March 2013 to all DGs.
Following the decision to adopt a common visual identity to strengthen the corporate image of the European Commission, communicated in the note to the Directors-General (23/11/2011), and announced in the note on the Implementation of the Commission's Visual Identity on the web (12/12/2011), the Commission standard template has been updated to implement this new corporate visual identity on the web.
Depending on the context, DGs may choose to apply the new visual identity within their current environment, or to implement the new template 2012.
The graphical specifications and tools to create the new banner can be found on the standard template page.
Guidelines for implementing the new visual identity using previous versions of the template are available at CWCMS portal.
Communicating about Europe via the Internet - Engaging the citizens (SEC(2007) 1742). The Commission launches a new Internet strategy embracing the Internet culture and aiming at making full use of the recent online developments in communication. According to this document, the Commission faces a twofold challenge: it needs to overhaul the EUROPA site and stimulate interest in EU affairs on other websites in order to broaden the debate on the European Union. This strategy is a follow-up to the Commission’s recent Communication “Communicating Europe in Partnership”. It is one of many ways of ensuring that the citizen’s right to be informed on EU issues remains a reality and a priority.
Communicating Europe in Partnership (COM(2007) 568 final) have the aim of informing the public more fully on the European Union (EU) and of giving citizens a more prominent voice. EU nationals are entitled to know about proposals made by EU officials, their governments being part of that Union, and also to influence their content. Since this Communication on European affairs was the result of a joint effort, a number of partnerships will be forged between the other institutions and the Member States.
The Commission adopts a strategic framework, aiming to become a first class e-administration and improve its efficiency and transparency through the best use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
The Commission publishes its proposal on communicating better with the public [214 KB], inviting comments from all sections of society.
After the European constitution is rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands, EU leaders call for a period of reflection. The Commission proposes its plan to stimulate more democracy, dialogue and debate in the EU.
The Commission adopted on 20 July 2005 an action plan [253 KB] to improve communicating Europe by the Commission. The extract below specifically concerns the Internet:
The EU website, "EUROPA", is the largest public website in the world and a rich source of information and has a key role to play in the Commission’s communication efforts. There is, however, a need to shift the emphasis more towards communication, to facilitate navigation, to strive to ensure that EUROPA pages are fully multilingual at the appropriate level and to operate with state of the art technology, including a powerful search engine.
DG Communication [the new name of DG PRESS] will therefore establish an Editor for EUROPA, with the objective of ensuring a well-structured website and avoiding overlaps of texts.
DG Communication will concentrate its intensified editorial efforts on a news site focusing on EU Communication priorities and current ‘hot’ topics, and on a number of general sites for young people and other key target audiences. Information for the general public will be fed locally by the Representations in their language(s) and tailored to local needs and realities.
Thematic pages addressing a more specialist audience will be managed by the DGs responsible for any given topic, under the authority of the editor and with editorial help if necessary from DG Communication.
Thematic portals should move beyond the Commission's DGs and services so that anyone interested can, with just one click, get an overview of a subject from all the institutions.
On 25 July 2001, the Commission adopted a White Paper on European Governance.
The paragraphs quoted below relate specifically to the development of EUROPA in the short term:
"Democracy depends on people being able to take part in public debate. To do this, they must have access to reliable information on European issues and be able to scrutinise the policy process in its various stages. Major progress has been made in 2001 with the adoption of new rules giving citizens greater access to Community documents. However, the Institutions and Member States also need to communicate more actively with the general public on European issues. The communication policy of the Commission and the other Institutions will promote efforts to deliver information at national and local level, where possible making use of networks, grassroots organisations and national, regional and local authorities. Information should be presented in a way adapted to local needs and concerns, and be available in all official languages if the Union is not to exclude a vast proportion of its population – a challenge which will become more acute in the context of enlargement.
Information and communication technologies have an important role. Accordingly, the EU’s EUROPA Website is set to evolve into an inter-active platform for information, feedback and debate, linking parallel networks across the Union.
Providing more information and more effective communication are a pre-condition for generating a sense of belonging to Europe. The aim should be to create a trans-national "space" where citizens from different countries can discuss what they perceive as being the important challenges for the Union. This should help policy makers to stay in touch with European public opinion, and could guide them in identifying European projects which mobilise public support."
On 6 July 2001, the European Commission published a paper setting out new goals for the development of EUROPA [95 KB].
This paper specifies the interdepartmental responsibilities of particular Commission departments (particularly DG Press, the Directorate-General for Informatics and the Publications Office of the European Union). It also sets out the intradepartmental responsibilities of all Commission departments in terms of supplying material for EUROPA.
On 8 June 2001, the Commission adopted a paper entitled " Towards the e-Commission: Implementation Strategy 2001-2005 (Actions 7, 8 and 9 of the Reform White Paper) ".
This paper forms part of the European Union’s "e-Europe" initiative. It defines the three main strands of the "e-Commission" as follows:
The development of EUROPA is part of the third strand.
Content published on Europa – whether online versions of official documents or content adapted to the Web – must meet certain legal requirements.
Appropriate disclaimers and notices must be inserted in precise terms and wherever relevant.
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In general terms, all works such as publications or documents issued by the European Union institutions and bodies, irrespective of the medium, are subject to copyright, whether or not this is explicitly stated, except for works excluded from copyright protection by the relevant applicable law because they do not meet the legal requirements for protection or even if they do, they are subject to legal exceptions. The Internet increasing the potential audience of works displayed online and disseminated through the European Union’s official website ‘Europa’, it is essential to ensure the protection of the European Union's intellectual property rights.
In the same way, the rights of third-party literary or artistic works incorporated in EU websites and electronic documents shall be protected.
Therefore, appropriate disclaimers and notices must be inserted in precise terms and wherever relevant.
For literary (articles/studies/reports/etc. or excerpts thereof) or artistic (photos/graphs/drawings/etc.) works prepared by EU statutory personnel within the context of their work for the EU institutions or bodies, the copyright vests with the European Union, in accordance with Article 18 of the Staff Regulations of officials of the European Communities :
For contributions/articles/studies/reports/etc. prepared by external companies/contractors on commission for EU institutions or bodies, and subject to standard EU service/study contracts, the general terms and conditions stipulate that any results or rights, including copyright and other intellectual or industrial property rights obtained in performance of the contract, shall be owned exclusively by the European Union, except where copyright or any other right of ownership already exists prior to the entering into force of the contract. In this latter case, the company/contractor shall specify the works subject to these pre-existing rights, which are included in the contribution/article/study/report/etc, and shall warrant that it is the owner of these rights or, as the case may be, that it has obtained permission from the copyright holder(s) or from its or their legal representatives to use the works. Furthermore, it shall communicate any terms and conditions linked to the rights it has been granted.
The use by an EU institution or body of contributions/articles/studies/reports/etc. submitted by third-party experts or groups of experts is subject to a ‘publication/translation rights agreement’.
The Commission has a reuse policy regarding its works that is implemented by Commission Decision of 12 December 2011 on the reuse of Commission documents. According to Article 2(1), this Decision only applies to public documents produced by the Commission or by public and private entities on its behalf:
This means that this reuse policy does not apply to works created by other EU Institutions or bodies. This difference is reflected in the general copyright notice of EUROPA and in the specific copyright notice of the Commission which are different.
Whenever third-party literary (articles/studies/reports/etc. or excerpts thereof) or artistic (photos/graphs/drawings/etc.) work is included within an EU website or electronic document, whatever the medium, the institution or body shall be responsible for obtaining the author’s or, as the case may be, right-holder's permission in writing and shall pay any fees required for the rights granted and ensure that appropriate acknowledgement is given in the publication.
For this purpose, an agreement setting out basic formal conditions shall be concluded between the DG or other originating department and the author/copyright holder of this material. Whereas the ownership remains with the author/copyright holder, a ‘Publication/translation rights agreement’ not only authorises the EU to use/publish/translate the material, but also authorises the EU to permit further use/reproduction/translation thereof. It also states, if relevant, that the author/copyright holder has obtained unfettered rights for the reuse in his work of materials on which copyright or any other right of ownership already exists. A duly signed original of such agreements shall be kept within the relevant files. For further information, please contact email@example.com.
Moreover, when using third-party material, whether textual or artistic, appropriate acknowledgement must be given to the author/copyright holder thereof (for photos, for example, a concise caption can be inserted). An additional courtesy acknowledgement may be mentioned as follows: ‘Reproduced with kind permission of the author(s)’.
Should, however, an author/copyright holder or his/her legal representative object to any use of his/her textual or artistic works other than dissemination by the EU institutions or bodies within their publication, the originating department shall respect this condition by displaying a relevant notice.
The latter may be printed directly under the third-party copyright acknowledgement as follows: ‘Reproduction is not authorised’, or inserted at a suitably prominent place at the beginning of a publication, as shown below.
For reproduction or use of this work, permission must be sought directly from the copyright holder.
In any case, the originating department is responsible for ensuring that no discrepancy may occur between the rights granted by the copyright holder and the copyright notice covering its publication.
For textual works, it is advisable to add to the copyright notice and qualification a disclaimer regarding responsibility, the form and wording of which is at the originating department’s discretion and adapted to the specific case, as shown in the following examples (for the EU).
Any EU institution or body wishing to create a link to a third-party website shall make prior enquiries about the terms and conditions set out on the website concerned, and it shall keep thereto. Furthermore, notifying the webmaster of a third-party website of the creation of a link from the EU ‘EUROPA’ website is considered a matter of ‘netiquette’ and legal caution.
Read more about links to external site.
For more in-depth information on copyright and other intellectual property rights, related to web sites, please consult the Intranet Copyright website.
For any additional information about Copyright and other Intellectual Property Rights please contact the helpdesk on Copyright in DG COMM at the address COMM-COPYRIGHT@ec.europa.eu.
For further questions regarding copyright issues related to publications, please contact the Publications Office at the address firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is a legal requirement to display the Copyright notice at the top of every page.
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A general copyright notice is included in the "Legal notice" service which defines the limits of responsibility and draws attention to the copyright restrictions of EUROPA. It is a legal requirement to display it at the top of every page.
© European Union, 1995-2013
Reuse is authorised, provided the source is acknowledged. The reuse policy of the European Commission is implemented by a Decision of 12 December 2011.
The general principle of reuse can be subject to conditions which may be specified in individual copyright notices. Therefore users are advised to refer to the copyright notices of the individual websites maintained under Europa and of the individual documents. Reuse is not applicable to documents subject to intellectual property rights of third parties.
© European Union, 1995-2013
Reproduction is authorised, provided the source is acknowledged, save where otherwise stated.
Where prior permission must be obtained for the reproduction or use of textual and multimedia information (sound, images, software, etc.), such permission shall cancel the above-mentioned general permission and shall clearly indicate any restrictions on use.
To be included by the author in publications:
Before displaying the wording ‘Reproduction is authorised …’, either of the following conditions must be set:
A cookie is a simple text file that is stored on a user's computer or mobile device when visiting certain websites.
A cookie is a text file no bigger than 4k that a website asks your browser to store on your computer or mobile device. This allows the website to "remember" your actions or preferences over a period of time.
Most browsers support cookies however users can set their browsers to decline them and can also delete them whenever they like.
Cookies can also be used for online behavioral target advertising and show adverts relevant to something that the user searched for in the past.
A cookie can be classified by its lifespan and the domain to which it belongs. By lifespan, a cookie is either a:
As for the domain to which it belongs, there are either:
It is important that EUROPA follows the Commission's guidelines on privacy and data protection and informs users that cookies are not being used in an intrusive way.
The ePrivacy directive and more specifically Article 5(3) requires prior informed consent for storage or access to information stored on a user's terminal equipment. In other words, you must ask users if they agree to most cookies and similar technologies (e.g. web beacons, Flash cookies, etc.) before the site starts to use them.
For consent to be valid, it must be informed, specific, freely given and must constitute a real indication of the individual's wishes.
However, some cookies are exempt from this requirement and so you don't have to ask for consent if the cookie:
Cookies clearly exempt from consent according to the EU advisory body on data protection- WP29 opinion:
This solution provides the following functionalities:
Read the full documentation to implement the Cookie Consent Kit.
Download the template to create your own cookie notice page.
Directive 2009/136/EC (ePrivacy Directive)
Regulation (EC) 45/2001 (Data protection)
EU advisory body on data protection - Working Party 29:
As any other European Institution, the European Commission is subject to specific legal obligations concerning the protection of personal data and their processing. These obligations are described in Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 [120 KB] of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2000 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Community institutions and bodies and on the free movement of such data.
For all the Institutions, the European Data Protection Supervisor acts as an independent supervisory authority (see art. 41 to 45 of the Regulation).
Each institution or body appoints at least one person as Data Protection Officer.
For more details please consult:
Third party services are not allowed on EUROPA. Webmasters must use in-house solutions and not third party tools.
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Third-party tools and services carry considerable continuity, accuracy and privacy risks and their use on EUROPA websites is therefore not allowed. Webmasters must use in-house solutions.
Using these tools embedded on EUROPA sites is not without risk. Several European countries and the US have removed third-party tools from their sites for fear of breaching their user privacy obligations following complaints by web users. For example, the German Data Protection Institution has declared it does not authorize the use of Google Analytics on public websites.
In case a EUROPA website wishes to use third party services, it should concern a justified business need, which cannot be fulfilled by in-house solutions. In that case, a risk assessment should be made, considering the requirements of Regulation (EC) 45/2001, Decision C(2006)3602 and Directive 2009/136/EC. This risk assessment should cover at least the 7 risk areas mentioned above and should include a consultation of the DPO and HR.DS.
If the aforementioned actions have lead to a positive outcome, the owner of the EUROPA website must comply with the ePrivacy Directive, implement the cookie consent kit and clearly inform the users via a specific disclaimer that a third party is collecting data on them and that they are no longer covered by the standard EUROPA privacy statement on data protection.
The risks of using third party tools are based on the following critical issues:
The European Union is committed to user privacy in conformity with Regulation 45/2001. As far as the Commission is concerned, its Personal Data Protection legal notice based on Regulation (EC) 45/2001 guarantees that on EUROPA sites the users are always informed when their private data is collected and how this data is handled.
Moreover, the ePrivacy directive (Directive 2009/136/EC) and specifically Article 5(3) requires prior user informed consent for storage or access to information stored on a user's device.
EUROPA sites permit the use of first party session cookies and in cases when first party permanent cookies are used the Internet user is duly notified. On the contrary, third-party products often use permanent cookies, log files, web beacons and other tracking tools to monitor and analyse user behaviour.
In that case, the data will be transferred outside the EU, which is subject to a series of conditions and restrictions: the Commission is generally not in a position to check that such conditions are met by the third party service provider.
The third-party tools are not maintained by the EUROPA team and the European Commission does not have any influence over them. That means there is a risk that the product could be discontinued at any time without prior notice. In case of malfunction or error in the service,
External tools are essentially black boxes. Webmasters do not have control over them and the development team of DIGIT is unable to assist with any development or troubleshooting.
Providers could change or adjust the collected data without notice. Moreover, various companies offering third party tools use differing data collection methods. Therefore, websites cannot be compared to each other. Their results can vary depending on the tool used thus being useless for reporting. On the contrary, EUROPA analytics uses the same collection method for all sites and allows comparability between them.
In the past, the settings of a third-party service integrated on a Commission website were changed to redirect users to a pornographic website. On another occasion, users were asked to install virus infested software under heading of the European Union. Recently, Twitter was spreading a worm without the account owner's knowledge. This is an obvious public relation risk.
The use of a third-party service on EUROPA sites serves as implicit endorsement or approval by the European institutions. This would constitute a breach of competition rules as no tender has been launched nor there exists any contractual relationship. This can also result in the Commission being held liable for any harm suffered by the Internet user.
Digital communications have exploded in the past decade, people are becoming more digitally literate and demanding, and our organisation needs to harness the full potential of these developments. As people increasingly access our sites via mobiles and tablets, there is a growing demand for short and sharp information. We need to give people what they want in the way they want it.
Work is under way in the European Commission to redefine and redesign how we communicate online to help the 40 million people who visit our websites every month.
The ultimate aim is to:
If we want our online web presence to become more coherent, relevant and cost-effective, cleaning our current web estate is crucial. Rationalisation is a key step to reach our goal of a slimmed down, user-centric online presence for the European Commission.
This is an ambitious project that will gradually implicate more and more Directorate-Generals (DG)s and colleagues. The digital transformation challenge will call us to reach out from our silos and work together across units and DGs. All DGs and services are invited to get on board.
Calling all communication units, webmasters and internet editors: you have a vital role to play in:
The Web Rationalisation team can offer help and guidance on any of the steps described above, and will guide you later in the process with in-depth analysis, user-experience recommendations, platform consolidation and much more.
The team rolling out this web rationalisation project consists of staff from DG COMM, DGT and DIGIT, as well as specialised consultants, currently working together in shared offices in Rue Guimard. The team has been up and running since mid-May 2013, and will expand as the project picks up steam.
The project team is supported by a director-level working group set up by Catherine Day and chaired by the Director-General of DG COMM. In July the directors adopted a series of principles of online communication the first of which was to focus on user needs when we communicate online.
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Don't hesitate to contact us at: EC-EUROPAWEBRATIONALISATION@ec.europa.eu
The European Commission has decided to rationalise and modernise its overall web presence. Getting there from where we are now means radically changing how we think about online communication and how we work together. The principles offered below are designed to help us do that.
(The principles were adopted by the web rationalisation working group on 3 July 2013.)
We start by understanding who our users are and which of their needs we can serve.
We base decisions about content and design on evidence and data about actual users and their most common interaction with our content – not on our assumptions. This means frequent and regular user surveys and testing.
Clear content helps people ’self serve’, thereby reducing user inquiries through more costly channels (helplines, emails etc.).
What’s important is the substance of our content. Our content must be:
Rationalising and consolidating our digital content helps us focus on key content with real value to our users. A smaller volume is easier to manage – and deliver in multiple languages (where necessary).
Our users cannot be expected to make any distinction between our Directorate-Generals (DG)s and agencies. To most of them, we are ‘the EU’. As things now stand, a journey to the information a user needs can take them across several sites, each with different look and feel. Adhering to good-quality common components, templates and forms makes life easier for users – and cheaper and easier for us in the long run.
Our content must get to the user in the right form – European Commission website, social media, etc. – and adapted for PC, smartphone, etc. – in the most resource-efficient way. It must fit all formats (without rewriting). This will save resources and avoid confusing users.
Genuine transparency means providing easy access to useful information that users can reuse and develop into new services and products for public use. Easier access to our information will help our stakeholders (whoever they may be) to engage with us, at the same time keeping the organisation open, relevant and in touch.
Our content must be kept constantly updated in response to user feedback, and deleted or archived at the end of its useful life. We must look closely at how we plan, deliver and manage content.
Invest in acquiring (and helping colleagues to acquire) the right skills, training and coaching to make the most of digital communication. We should look at how digital can help us work better internally, helping us work better across teams and DGs.
All the above means avoiding duplication of effort and making optimal use of scarce resources by: