In cooperation with the European Documentation Centre (EDC) in the Administrative Library of the Federal Chancellery, the EDC at the University for Continuing Education Krems held an Austrian networking event on 28 February 2023, to exchange work experience and initiate future cooperation among EDCs in Austria. Special attention was given to the topics digitalisation, outreach and interdisciplinarity, which increasingly gain importance for all EDCs.
1963–2023: 60 years ago, the European Commission established the first European Documentation Centres (EDCs) and laid the foundations for its oldest information network, which nowadays consists of 280 EDCs in 25 EU Member States. On the occasion of this anniversary and under the motto “Rethinking EU information”, the EDC in the Federal Chancellery and the EDC Krems invited the Austrian EDCs to an online event on 28 February 2023, in order to promote peer networking and exchange.
European Documentation Centres act as information hubs on EU law and policy by giving ac-cess to EU publications and documents and supporting and promoting (primarily academic) education and research activities on EU integration. In Austria there are nine EDCs, established at seven universities across the country as well as the Federal Ministry for Economy and Labour and, since 2022, at the Federal Chancellery. The EDC Krems, founded in 1995 and settled at the Department for Legal Studies and International Relations, has undergone a relaunch process since 2021, after becoming in that year Austria’s first “new generation” EDC with an enlarged mandate in promoting also public discourse/dialogue on European integration issues.
At the networking event jointly organised by the Federal Chancellery and the University Krems the participants exchanged on their EDC work experience as well as future opportunities and challenges, with specific focus on the following topics/questions:
- Digitalisation – how can EDCs become „fit for the digital age“?
- Outreach – how can EDCs promote debate(s) about the European Union?
- Interdisciplinarity– how can EDCs bring together different academic disciplines and promote dialogue between them?
The participants discussed, among others, how EDCs can make digital EU documents sustainably accessible and strengthen research competences in the digital world, also and especially as regards a critical appraisal of sources and disinformation challenges. Furthermore, they identified opportunities for cooperating in their outreach activities as well as for enhancing the collaboration with various research fields next to legal studies. The peer exchange also addressed the principal understanding of the EDCs’ role and limitations to the mandate and resources – discussions which will be carried forth jointly in the coming months after the fruitful kick-off.
Networking on the European level
In conceptualising the Austian event, the EDC in the Federal Chancellery and the EDC Krems resorted also to input from last year’s European Documentation Centres‘ Training Seminar, which was held by the European Commission in Brussels on 16 and 17 November 2022 and gathered “new generation” EDCs from 20 Member States. The University Krems was represented by EDC Manager Susanne Fraczek, who was invited by the European Commission to also contribute a workshop input on “Attracting students to participate in civic and democratic life at European level - Opportunities and Challenges”.
Especially after a three-year pandemic break, the seminar offered participants not only a very valuable forum for training, networking and peer exchange, but also opened up communication channels to EU institutions and EDC colleagues across Europe – an important result for the ongoing EDC work. The publicly accessible seminar website documents the agenda, information on the speakers, their presentations as well a video recordings and photos.