The European Commission has launched a new “Dialogue with Citizens” portal - http://europa.eu.int/citizensrights/ - providing clear information on how citizens can use their rights in the EU Internal Market and navigable in all 20 official languages. The site contains guides on ten areas of EU law and over 1300 printable, multilingual factsheets with practical tips. If users cannot find the information they need or have questions about any aspect of EU policy, they can phone or e-mail other advice and problem-solving services accessible via the site and get personalised help in any of the 20 languages.
Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein said: “This new site uses modern technology to give people targeted information that helps them enhance their lives by taking advantage of their rights in the EU Internal Market - it is no good “bombarding” citizens with leaflets that they do not want. If the site cannot help, users can speak to a real person, in their own language. This is proof of the Commission’s will to help those who want to use the opportunities the EU gives them.”
The new site provides access to a series of guides setting out EU-wide rights and opportunities. Among the subjects are: living, working, studying and travelling in other EU countries; buying goods and services across the EU; equal opportunities; data protection; and settling cross-border financial services disputes. There is also a summary, in 20 languages, on transitional arrangements for the free movement of workers to and from the new Member States, with more information to be added soon.
For more specific information, the site provides, for each of the 15 “old” Member States, about 1300 “national factsheets”, in English, French, German and the language of the Member State concerned. Users select a sector, for example employment, consumer protection or studying in another EU country and then a more specific subject, such as “how to find work”, “opening a bank account” or “higher education” and the country in which they are interested. The site displays information on the law at European level and in the Member State concerned and tips on the practical steps to take.
A set of useful addresses, telephone numbers and on-line resources in the Member States is available from the site, so that users can act quickly on the advice it gives. There are also links to other Commission advice and information services including:
Europe Direct (IP/03/986) - which answers any questions about the EU, online or via a freephone number (00 800 6789 10 11) useable all over Europe;
Citizens’ Signpost Service ( IP/02/1110), which offers free personalised advice from legal experts on practical rights and on where to go to make sure those rights are respected. Users get a reply in their own language within eight days;
SOLVIT (IP/02/1110)), which, via a network of centres in each Member State, helps citizens and businesses get corrections to misapplications of EU rules by national administrations.
The above services now cover all 25 Member States, in all 20 official languages. Along with the Dialogue with Citizens site, they form part of an integrated “cascade” system, to direct users quickly to the right point of entry for their query.
Work on improving the new Dialogue with Citizens site will continue. Over time, in cooperation with national authorities, a set of national factsheets on the ten new Member States will be developed.
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