Activity of Europe Direct Puglia and its result!

Dr. M. Irene Paolino

Europe Direct Puglia

EU Information Office

University of Bari "Aldo Moro"

What have been the activity of the Europe Direct Puglia?

Until today, the Europe Direct Information Centre Europe Direct Puglia, where I work in, has always been awarded as member of the Official EU Information Network (2005-2008; 2009-2012; 2013-2017; 2018-2020) and has been active since 2005, hosted by University of Bari – Department of Political Sciences. 

Considering the EU priorities, the Europe Direct Puglia has to set up and manage the relay with the aim of providing information service that:

  • enables citizens to obtain information, advice, assistance and answers to questions about the EU legislation, policies, programs, actions and funding opportunities;
  • gives citizens the opportunity to send feedback to the institutions in the form of opinions and suggestions;
  • disseminate an accurate information tailored to local needs.

In order to satisfy the first point, we have organized a front office, that is like an assistance service, open everyday from 9-15, where citizens can have an answer to their questions by telephone, email, messenger, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, website and directly. In fact, the front-office welcomes visitors daily, take calls from the public, and receive written question on a wide variety of EU issues. Its role is to act as a one-stop-shop for the citizens. For specialized questions the EDICs should cooperate and get information from the other EC networks or the EDIC Central in Bruxelles. 

In order to satisfy the second point, we distribute during the events/activities a customer satisfaction questionnaire to know not only the level of satisfaction about the discussion, the relevance of the topic, the quality of the organization but we provide also the citizens the opportunity to make known and exchange their views, in all the fields of the EU’s activities, in particular, those having an impact upon their daily lives and about their vision of the Europe’ future. In this way we obtain also evidences citizens information needs, suggestions and opinions.

In order to satisfy the third point, we try to take into account the suggestions perceived by our users (during the events or during the “assistance service”, that we call front office) or analyzing the questionnaires gathering during the events/activities, or studying the work programs, the working documents and the strategic plans published at European, national, regional, local level.

In line with the EU strategic objectives, our action plan is characterized by a multidisciplinary and multi-sector approach, tailored to the information needs of the target audience, and in line with the EU political and communication priorities, selected every year according to EC annual work programme,

After a first selection of the topics to be treated during the activities/events according to the official strategic and working documents above mentioned, all topics are shared with the members of the Committee composed by experts of EU Law at the University of Bari in order to be sure to deliver to public a relevant activities plan, providing precise, detailed and updated information about the defined topics.

Moreover, the local institutional partnership established for this purpose is crucial. The partnership is composed by many multiplier local actors and stakeholders (Puglia Region, Regional Council, Municipality of Bari, other EU Information Desks, social partners and civil society organizations), that help us to have a pro-active attitude in order to stimulate a wider public debate by selecting the most interesting issues for our territory.

Thanks to the contribution of the Institutional partnership and the University’ Committee, the activities are planned and acted in order to:

  • promote citizens’ participation in the democratic process through the exercise of the right to access to EU documents and information;
  • generate an open, correctly informed and wide range dialogue on European policies.

To this end, we believe that the Commission has done well to reinforce its communication policy by providing an EU information network which is decentralized at national, regional and local level, because each European context is characterized by different needs, requirements, specificities and interests and each context needs specific attention.

 

What is the role of management? 

The manager of Europe Direct Puglia is responsible of the effective and efficient activities planning, organizing and reporting of all data to the EC in order to provide all information about the kind of activities organized, the topics discussed, the numbers of the participants, the partners involved, the target groups involved, the tools and the communication channels, the photos, the signature sheets… So the manager also coordinate the data collection process and reporting to EC through the specific intranet devoted to Europe Direct Centres.

 

The manager is responsible not only for the internal communication to all members of the Host structure (academia, students and administratives) but also for the external communication to different stakeholders. In the external communication we pay attention to communicate each event to interested stakeholders selected from the database created thanks to our long experience. Considering also the large audience of our activities and the number of activities realized we have a database composed of about 9000 contacts.

  • Internally, the EU information desk aims at realizing effective and integrated activities and strives for a full mobilization of available resources (human and financial) in a coherent manner so as to achieve the best possible impact in terms of improved knowledge, of number of users reached, in terms of variety of participating target groups, sector of information, communication channels used.
  • Externally, the EU information Centre has to work in close cooperation and partnership with all stakeholders and multiplier actors of the region interested in the defined topics and with the same mission. To achieve our goals, a strong commitment of all actors and stakeholders of the territory involved is necessary, and the role of them in this respect is crucial. 
  • Our role in this process is to put pressure on them and to actively engage all different kinds of public interested on topics selected in the action plan.

Operational and information dissemination 

The EDICs’ role is to disseminate and distribute the information to the public. We have many tools for dissemination, such as:

  • A regularly updated website, including information on EDIC events, sections with EU themes, periodicals, reviews, articles and news of the actuality of the EU life. The website includes, for instance, also EDIC’s activities schedules, products, such as audiovisual or printed material on EU issues, including interactive form to enable the public to request to subscribe to EDIC Puglia mailing list in order to be informed about our activities; 
  • Social media to promote the EDIC mission, aims and services, events, and information on EU issues. These tools are a quick way to promote activities and knowledge not only to local public, but to a larger audience. For example, social media could include news of the latest EU developments in general matters of interest for citizens, news from the country’s EC Representation, recent and upcoming EDIC activities, details on funding opportunities, as well as information from other EDICs or EU institutions.
    Furthermore, through social media we can release information on ongoing or future events;
  • Information products on EU issues produced by the EDIC Puglia (fact sheets, brochure, leaflets);
  • Newsletters distributed via an EDIC’s mailing list: newsletters are a fast and accessible way for the public to access news that interests or informs them. Newsletters should be written in a clear and understandable way, including tailor-made information for specific target groups (information sections for students/youth, for job-seekers, for entrepreneurs, etc.);
  • Visits and lessons to schools to raise children and students’ awareness of the European Union values, the benefits of EU citizenship and general EU functioning and competences.

 

WHY is it important to run a good information service? 

  • It is vital for an EDIC to provide clear, concrete, accurate and valid information to both its target groups and visitors, since this is one of an EDIC’s main and daily activities. 
  • It is important that information for the general public is useful and easy to understand. 
  • It is essential that the EDIC is always up to date on issues of interest for its target groups. 
  • The provision of valid and current information will increase the EDIC’s visibility at a local and regional level, and will position it as a reliable player in the field of disseminating EU information. 

 

WHAT are the elements to be taken into account in providing information services? 

To be able to address the challenges of a good information service, we should consider: 

  • What information is of interest to the target groups? 
  • How can this information be distributed/communicated to the different target groups? 
  • How can an EDIC ensure that the information is used/understood by the target groups? 
  • How can information sources/content be kept up to date? 

 

WHAT are the tools to provide a quality information service? 

Where an EU information can be found? The EU information can be searched via various information sources such as:

  • The Europa portal 
  • Europe Direct Information Centre website
  • Information products and fact sheets 
  • Newsletters 
  • Publications

These are just a few examples of available information sources on EU issues. The list is not exhaustive but experience shows that it depends on the concrete needs/requests of local citizens. 

Often the EU Official publications are not available in the language of the country. This could be a serious problem to delivery information to the public/visitors. It’s could be recommended to create favorites 10-15 best websites in order to better monitor interesting websites. Also the cooperation between EDICs or other EU Information services represents an additional tool to EU information searches, to exchange and share useful sources and practices.

 

In the end can you list some of the results achieved from you? 

In this way the results achieved by Europe Direct Puglia are:

  • increased number of users of services/activities offered by Europe Direct Puglia, reaching the following range of public: local public bodies and organizations; schools and teachers; professional and trade organizations; economic and social partners; NGOs and associations of civil society; citizens; companies; young people and students;
  • reinforced local and regional debate on the EC political priorities by organizing seminars, conferences, info-days, forums, workshops;
  • diversified activities to cover as much as possible topics, territory and target groups also thanks to the support of the institutional partnership;
  • disseminated European information through articles, publications, magazines, periodicals, websites, social media, brochures and promotional materials;
  • promoted synergies between actors who deal with EU policies at regional level;
  • reinforced cooperation among all the institutional partners.

 

Thank you for sharing this important information with us! Wishing you success!