From a retro 1995 to Y2K to today: 26 years of

Born in 1995, it knows everything about the EU and talks about it in 24 languages…

Image for post
Image for post
A bit retro for 2020? This is what the europa homepage looked like back in 1995. ©EU

We are talking about the EU’s europa website that is celebrating its 26th birthday this year and has over time seen a lot of changes while managing to keep up with the latest trends.

When it was launched, the europa website started out with content in only three languages but soon became one of the most visited websites in the world. Its main purpose was to bring citizens closer to the EU: the website has all the information about the European Union, its institutions and what it does each day.

The website was only five years old when it survived Y2K, the Millennium bug.

Y2K was a big deal at the turn of the millennium when we went from 1999 to 2000. This was because a lot of computers and automated systems stored dates using two numbers for the year — 96, for example, for 1996 — this helped save on memory. The Y2K bug was a fear that computers would consider 00 as 1900, rather than the year 2000. This could have impacted a lot of automated processes and computers.

Europa is still very popular today. Every second, 11 users visit the website. This means almost 1 million visitors per day and more than 300 million per year!

Now, the europa online experience counts the 24 languages of the European Union and even some non-EU languages. We do have specific webpages in non-EU languages, for example, in Chinese and Arabic.

Image for post
Image for post
From 1997: Fitting a whole website on a CD-ROM would be virtually impossible today. ©EU

Yes, at the very beginning of the internet time, the whole europa website could fit easily on one CD-ROM. This was actually quite helpful as you could showcase the website at conferences where it was relatively difficult to find a stable and reliable internet connection.

Today this would be impossible given that the website now has over a million pages.

In 1995, email was progressively coming to the European Commission but not all services were equipped with it. The website team used to receive information via fax from different services and needed to retype manually the whole text that was then published on the website.

Nowadays, we have live chats with Commissioners and all our different services on social media.

But back then we were making efforts to reach out to more citizens online and the then Commission Vice-President Margot Wallström launched her first EU blog in 2004. This was a turning point in online communication as citizens from all over Europe could comment and engage with a Commissioner. You can still view the blog here and also see comments from people across Europe.

Two years later, we were on YouTube where we began our social media journey.

Their webpages are archived for posterity. You can relive the old Commissions on our archive pages.

We have archives that include video footage and photos, some of which mark big moments in our history and some might surprise you.

Nope, we do not, ever.
Everything published on the website comes from trustworthy and reliable sources. You can count on it.

We have games, quizzes, and timelines marking important moments in our history and society, which made the EU what it is today.

So if you want to test your knowledge, navigate through EU history, and finally understand what is the difference between the European Council and the Council of the EU, our learning corner is the place to be.

For more:

Official Medium account of @EU_Commission | Stories, posts & articles about our work. Our social media policy:

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store