Introduction

In recent years, the European Union has stressed the important growth of communicating Europe. The discussion revolving around the adoption of a European communication policy is a good example. In June of 2007 the Presidency of the European Council articulated the need for communication with citizens in a coherent manner, and the need to open a permanent dialogue as key factors in the comprehension and realization of the European project. Only a well-informed citizen can grasp the impact of the European Union in her/his daily life, in society, and at the national, European and international levels.

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13.12.2007 - Photo of the signature of the Treaty of Lisbon – Portugal

In the COM (2007) 568 final, the European Commission recognized the role of the Internet as a means for communication and interchange with citizens. The Commission appealed to the public and private sectors to foster contact with and amongst European citizens through the development of web sites dedicated to European matters.

With this in mind, and because the European Documentation Centres (EDCs) play a crucial role in supporting teaching, learning, and research regarding European integration, the present coordination of the Portuguese Network of European Documentation Centres (PNEDC) have developed The European Gateway and The European Database projects, which are channels of communication between citizens and information specialists, and controlled access points for European information. The everyday citizen who accesses the network is overwhelmed by the quantity of information, and confronted with its enormity, (s)he is unable to make good use of it. This is where the information specialist comes in – as a mediating agent between the deluge of data and the citizen.

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13.12.2007 - Family photo (photographer: Ricardo Oliveira - GPM)

It is also intended that these projects serve as a meeting point between the Portuguese-speaking world and Europe, promoting an intercontinental and inter-institutional dialogue about the European Union.