I. Europa at a glance

1. What is Europa?

Europa is the European Union's web server. Just go to http://europa.eu.int/ and you´ll find all the information made available on the Internet by the institutions and bodies of the European Union, including the European Parliament, the Council of the Union, the Commission, the Court of Justice, the Court of Auditors, the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the European Central Bank and the European Investment Bank.

Europa provides a vast array of information on European integration, particularly concerning the European Union's objectives, policies and institutional set-up. Europa is designed to be as user-friendly as possible in line with the EU institutions' commitment to openness.

2. When was Europa launched?

The Europa server 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 an information resource for everyone, specialising in matters covered by the Treaties.

3. How is Europa organised?

The information on Europa comes under four main headings and is provided by all the EU institutions. The headings are: "Abc", "News", "Institutions" and "Policies".

"News" is aimed principally at journalists and other people professionally involved in the information industry. It contains official press releases from the EU institutions and information on major forthcoming events.

"Abc" is aimed at the public and sets out to provide clear answers to key questions concerning such things as the objectives of the European Union, European citizens' rights and public access to documents.

"Institutions" provides a general introduction to each of the institutions as well as links to their home-pages.

"Policies" sets out the Union's activities by subject, giving an overview of the policies as well as more detailed information for students and professionals .

4. Is Europa free of charge?

There is no charge for consulting Europa. It is the policy of the institutions to make the fullest possible use of the Internet to enable the public to get information on their rights and obligations quickly and free of charge. Examples of this are current EU legislation and the Official Journal, issues of which can be consulted free of charge on the Internet for 45 days following the date on which the paper version comes out.

The principle of providing information free of charge has been extended to a whole range of official documents, such as the texts of legislation, the Bulletin of the European Union, press releases from all the different institutions (the RAPID database) and the Electronic Directory of the European Institutions (IDEA).

However, a charge is made for certain services specifically designed for professional use, such as the CELEX database, the electronic library of European Union documents (EUDOR) and various services offered by EUROSTAT, the Statistical Office of the European Communities.

5. Who is Europa administered by?

Europa is administered by the European Commission in partnership with the other European institutions. There is an Inter-Institutional Editorial Committee responsible for the overall consistency of the material put out jointly on the Internet and for monitoring it. Within the Commission, the general coordination, development and day-to-day running of Europa are handled by Directorate-General X (Information, Communication, Culture and Audiovisual Media), working closely together with the Secretariat-General, the Informatics Directorate and the Publications Office.

II. What´s on Europa

6. How many documents are available on Europa?

Counting all language versions together, in January 1999 Europa already had over one million documents. This figure includes HTML and PDF documents and the contents of the databases on the site.

7. What languages is Europa available in?

Europa is available in the eleven official languages of the European Union, which are Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish. As far as possible, the aim is to provide the public with the information they are looking for in their own language.

As a rule, where a document exists in various languages, it appears on Europa in all the available language versions. More specialised information is put out in at least two languages, the languages being the ones most commonly used by the audience the information is intended for.

The home pages, indexes and official documents are available in all eleven Community languages.

8. How often is Europa updated?

New information is added to Europa every day. Click on "What´s new?" for a day-by-day rundown of new pages.

III. Europa interactive

9. What interactive facilities does Europa offer?

Europa has a range of interactive facilities designed to give the European institutions and the public the chance to communicate with each other directly. They include mailboxes, chatrooms, newsgroups, on-line ordering and feedback.

10. How can I ask questions on Europa?

There are mailboxes for users to post their questions in. In addition to Europa's general mailbox, several of the institutions have mailboxes of their own.

Europa's general mailbox is handled by the Commission and users get a reply within 48 hours. The Commission is also encouraging its various Directorates-General to set up mailboxes of their own.

11. What do Europa chatrooms involve?

A chatroom is an on-line conversation over the Internet. The aim is to give Europa users direct access to a political figure, such as a Member of the Commission. This is how chats work:

The chat is advertised at least a month in advance on the Europa home page; Interpreters are on hand to relay questions and answers in all eleven official languages; the length of a chat is usually limited to about two to three hours;

A transcript of the chat is then made available on-line on Europa.

12. Can I take part in discussions on Europa?

Europa organises newsgroups on a regular basis. The aim is to give Europa users the opportunity to have their say on specific subjects over a given period, usually several weeks. The newsgroups are multi-user and multilingual, enabling participants to see all the contributions and the answers given to them.

Newsgroups have been organised on such subjects as the impact and performance of the single market and the Green paper on the protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services.

IV. Europa User Statistics

13. Which are Europa’s most successull sites?

January 99 has been the best month ever in the four years long history of the server of the European Union ! ! !

The statistics for January 1999 from the Informatics Directorate show an increase of 49 per cent on December 1998 and of 285 per cent on January 1998 of total hits, which reached 80 million for the month and 2.6 million per day. Total hits represent the complete traffic on the server that hosts the European Commission and the Court of Justice. Global figures including the other institutions are not yet available.

Document hits – which exclude image files and represent documents, textfiles, scripts or CGI programmes creating documents as output – were up 44 per cent on the previous month and 252 per cent on January 1998. In January 1999 document hits were over 13,3 million with a daily rate average of 430.000.

The euro is the star of the month with over 10% of the total hits! The Quest Database scored 900.000 hits and the EURO home page another 150.000. The special « eurobirth » page with the euroconverter and the conversion rates table created by DGX, DGII and DI for the 31.12 changeover got 500.000. And Eurostat Euro Indicators page reached 30.000 hits.

The Court of Justice, Eur-Lex, RAPID, Scadplus remain favourites.

The Commission DGs in the « top 100 hit list » are DGV and its very successful EURES database for job seekers, DGII, DGXXII with the Leonardo and Socrates programmes, DG1A homepage and DGXII launch of the fifth framework programme.

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