European Council readies tender for digital push

The top body of the European Union (EU) is embarking on a major digital drive to help it keep in touch with the public.

Digital hub: The EU is modernising how it communicates policies
Digital hub: The EU is modernising how it communicates policies

The European Council, which comprises heads of state from across the EU, plans to launch its first tender for digital work, and has hired UK agency CoLab to help with the process.

Launching in 2014 and running for four years, the framework is likely to be open to PR agencies, although plans remain at an early stage.

CoLab founder John Shewell called the effort part of a 'big leap' for the council into '21st-century communication'.

News of the tender follows June's European Digital Agenda Assembly, which was attended by NGOs, big-name companies such as Google and EU Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes.

Major topics of discussion included rolling out high-speed broadband, with Kroes also responsible for driving the digital agenda across the EU more widely.

Shewell said: 'The European Council wants to create a modern public administration and it wants digital delivery to be at its heart.

'The EU is positioning itself as a digital hub and an innovative space, so the council is trying to set that tone.

'A key part of this is modernising how it communicates its policies across member states, and broadening its appeal so that people understand what it is doing, whether it's the public, bureaucrats, politicians or members of the media.'

The tender is set to run across a range of services, from website design to social media and opening up access to data. The process is expected to be finalised by next summer.

Shewell, who as part of drawing up the tender has been charged with looking at the 'future of digital well beyond 2018', added: 'It is about tapping into a deep pool of agile and flexible providers across a wide geographical spread.'

The European Council is headed by Herman Van Rompuy and charged under the Treaty of Lisbon with defining the EU's 'general political directions and priorities'.

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