The European Commission is currently opening a series of new information centres across the Netherlands and has published an ‘open call' . Up until now, there was only a small number (5) of those Europe Direct information centres in the Netherlands. According to the FNP, the European Commission would like a more equal distribution of those Europe Direct centres across the country, preferably opening an office in each of the twelve Dutch provinces.
The Europe Direct centres function as a place where people, businesses, educational institutions and other organisations can get both information and advice about the EU. Sybren Posthumus, FNP representative on the Fryslân Provincial Council, says: "With an eye on Fryslân's ambitions to bring in about 130 million euros of subsidies from Brussels for local projects and initiatives, the FNP is of the opinion that a Europe Direct centre is a must-have." The new information centre could also contribute towards strengthening the existing ‘Europe Ready Fryslân' network already active in the province. There used to be a Europe Direct centre in Leeuwarden, in the former Exchange House, but its activities were all moved to Groningen a few years ago.
From direct contacts with the European Commission, we also understand that there is a budget for a larger number of high-quality information centres. The 5 current contracts are about to expire and applicants have to submit their proposals (really) soon (before 22 October). Setting up and staffing such an information centre can bring Europe and the region closer together, and also does not decrease the chances of attracting subsidies. An additional argument is the current Coronavirus pandemic, which has made it more difficult to go to Brussels in person. "All the more reason for the Province to come into action and not let this opportunity pass by," according to Posthumus.